Balti-sports: An eclectic mix

Today's sports schedule in the greater Baltimore area is all over the map. The big soccer game between Inter Milan and Manchester City is expected to draw more than 40,000 to M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens drew a record crowd (12,000) to their public workouts on Friday and are expecting similar numbers today. And, of course, a solid crowd is expected for Maryland Championship Wrestling's Shamrock Cup event tonight at the New Green Room in Dundalk.

The Orioles play the Kansas City Royals on the road, so you could stay home and watch them on TV, but I think the evening will be a ratings challenge for MASN, especially after last night's disheartening collapse.

Self-promotion dept: It's a nice day, but why risk skin cancer by going outside. I'll be talking sports all afternoon on WBAL (1090AM) and WBAL.com, so tune in at noon and join in the conversation. Obviously, we'll be talking about a very eventful week for the Orioles and a discouraging weekend for the Ravens. Orioles beat reporter Jeff Zrebiec has had a very busy week himself, but he'll will check in from KC to update us ahead of the 4 p.m. deadline for making trades without passing players through waivers.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:20 AM

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Orioles: Juan's last game

I'm guessing Juan Samuel will be relieved to be relieved of his first major league command. The Orioles did seem to respond to his managerial temperament, but that wasn't reflected in their performance.

The final insult was today's 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals, which featured a solid performance by Orioles castoff Bruce Chen. The Orioles tried to rally in the ninth -- putting runners at first and second with no one our -- but Nick Markakis bounced into a double play and Cesar Izturis would eventually be stranded at third.

So, Buck Showalter inherits a team that has lost 14 of its last 17 games and is heading into a month of August that features 20 games against teams that are in first or second place in their divisions. And this will be the easier of the two remaining months of the regular season. The Orioles play the September/October portion of the schedule against Yankees, Blue Jays, Tigers, Red Sox and Rays.

There are 57 games left to play, so the question of the day is an obvious one.

How many games will Buck win over the remainder of the season?

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 4:48 PM

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My take: Is Buck really prepared for this

Buck Showalter is considered a master of preparation, but that doesn't necessarily mean he is prepared for what he's going to encounter in the Orioles organization. If you want to read more on this subject, check out my column in today's print edition or read it on the Web site right here.

I'll also weigh in today on Showalter's first game as Orioles manager, but only after I head out to Ravens camp for early practice and the on-field coaches confab to promote the Sept. 6 showdown between Maryland and Navy at M&T Bank Stadium.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:00 AM

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Ready for some college football?

Since M&T Bank will be the site of this year's "Crab Bowl Classic" between Maryland and Navy, the Ravens hosted the coaching staff from each team at today's practice and the two head coaches met the media on the field at McDaniel College.

Obviously, they're both excited about the game on Sept. 6, which will be the first time these teams have met since that heart-stopping game in 2005 when a missed tackle cost Navy a chance to score a major upset.

To some degree, the shoe is on the other foot this year, since it is Navy that will come into the game with the higher national profile.

"We're looking for a great game,'' said Ralph Friedgen. "It's a great challenge. They are one of the best teams in the country."

Both Friedgen and Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said they would favor this game being an annual event.

"I think it's huge, especially for us,'' said Fridge. "Navy has a big rivalry with Army. To have this in-state rivalry, I think it helps the whole state. Having it in Baltimore just accentuates that."

"We need to play more,'' said Niumatalolo. "We've got two great institutions so close together. We're looking forward to it. Maryland is looking forward to it. Ralph is looking forward to it."

The game is part of an ESPN doubleheader that also features the opener between Boise State and Virginia Tech at FedEx Stadium.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 12:00 PM

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Ravens: Mason jarred

The suspense continues to build at Ravens training camp, where veteran wideout Derrick Mason had to be helped off the field with a twisted right ankle. It doesn't appear to be a serious setback, but the Ravens will just have to wait and see.

If there is a bright side to this particular injury -- regardless of the severity -- it is that the Ravens have decidedly more depth at wide receiver this year with the addition of veterans Anquon Boldin and Donte Stallworth and rookie David Reed. If Mason misses a lot of time, it could create more reps for Demetrius Williams, who may need to move up the depth chart at least on slot to make the team.

There is a wide range of possibility here for Mason. If it's a garden-variety ankle sprain, he shouldn't be out for more than a week or two. If it's a high ankle sprain, that's a much more time-consuming injury.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 12:18 PM

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Showalter: Markakis, Roberts react

New manager Buck Showalter met in right field with Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis during pregame warmups, and it probably wasn't no accident that he did it in front of the rest of the team. Roberts and Markakis are the two players who are signed long-term and are viewed as the de facto captains of the club.

Both Markakis and Roberts weighed in on Showalter's arrival before the game, though with differing levels of apparent enthusiasm.

"It's nice to know we have a guy that's going to be here for awhile,'' Markakis said. "There is an understanding that we as players have to go out and play and play hard."

Roberts just seemed to take all the attention surrounding Showalter's debut in stride.

"It was just like every other manager that has come in,'' Roberts said. "Some things will change, some things will change and you just adapt. The biggest thing is at 7 o’clock, you go play baseball.

"I think at this point, he’s mostly going to come in and evaluate and watch us play baseball for the last 60 games. Obviously when this period is over, we’ll all know a lot more about him.
I’ve been through six of them. I don’t necessarily get excited about new managers. I guess only time will tell."

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 9:16 PM

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