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Palmer: Face of the Orioles

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Palmer: Face of the Orioles

Jim Palmer is 66 now. Thats hard for lots of Orioles fans to believe.He still looks terrific, moving easily around the batting cage and visiting in the clubhouse, talking with players, coaches, managers and anyone else.Palmer is the face of the Orioles. That may be hard to believe, but Brooks Robinson hasnt been around the club much in recent years and Cal Ripken has moved on to success in the business of baseball.Palmers the one now.As the still outspoken analyst of half a seasons games, Palmer can take shots at Jake Arrieta or Brian Matusz and viewers will appreciate that. Others couldnt do that.
Outsiders dont know that Palmer will talk pitching for extended periods of time with Arrieta or Matusz, give them advice and the bristle when they cant or wont take it.Some years back, David Segui, who became notorious during the steroid period, groused that Palmer should stay out of the clubhouse. No one wanted him there. No one appreciated his advice.Segui is long gone. Palmer is still there.Palmers advice is wise and friendly and offered to Orioles and opponents alike. Hes one of the few local broadcasters who regularly visits opposing clubhouses, too. Its probably a remnant of his years at ABC, when he did national games.On Saturday, Palmer gets his statue at Oriole Park. Two weeks after Earl Weaver, Palmer will stand and speak. Hell also cry. He said that on a telecast last weekend. Palmer and his broadcast partner Gary Thorne joked about when he would start to cry on Saturday. Pretty quickly, Palmer said.Weaver will be there as Palmer was there for him two weeks ago. Their arguments have now been reduced to caricatures, and both are probably eager to forget when they were serious.Neither Palmer nor Weaver would have had the success they enjoyed without the other.Palmer is the only Oriole to have played in each of the franchises six World Series and three championships, in 1966, 1970 and 1983. Its no coincidence that Palmers time coincided with the greatest sustained success in franchise history. In only one of his 19 seasons did the franchise finish below .500.While no one will break Ripkens consecutive games streak, its highly unlikely that any pitcher will win as many games in an Orioles uniform as Palmer.He was 268-152, a .638 winning percentage and a sparkling 2.89 ERA. He won 20 games eight times. Only one Orioles pitcher has won 20 since he retiredand that was in the season he retired.Palmer was a teenager when he signed with the Orioles, learning the game under Cal Ripken, Sr. and coming to Baltimore at 19. A year later, Palmer became the youngest player to throw a shutout in the World Series as the Orioles swept the Dodgers in four.He often talked about his injuries. While critics thought he was hypersensitive, he was just well informed. Palmer had terrific moundmates, too. He, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson each won 20 games in 1971. Sadly, hes the only one who survives.He stayed around long enough to have a new generation of equally skilled pitchers join him in the late seventies and early eighties: Mike Flanagan, Steve Stone, Scott McGregor, Dennis Martinez, Storm Davis and Mike Boddicker.
Thirty years ago, Palmer was one of the first athletes to appeal to non-sports fans. He thoroughly enjoyed being an underwear model for Jockey and posters of him were sold by the thousands.He has a rich life as a father, grandfather and stepfather. Recently, he was in the news for auctioning off his trophies to help provide educational funds for his grandchildren and teenaged autistic stepson.A friend of mine who monitors these things told me recently that Palmers charge for autographs is far less than other players of his stature.Free agency came along during Palmers salad days. He never really cashed in. It was unthinkable for him to leave the Orioles, and according to baseballreference.com, he never made more than 250,000 a season.Weaver retired after the 1982 season, and by the time he returned in June 1985, Palmer was gone. After a few ineffective appearances in 1984, the team let him go.As cold and calculating as Weaver could be, it must have relieved him that he didnt have to be the one to tell Palmer he was finished.He talked about pitching elsewhere and seven years later tried an abortive comeback in spring training. At his farewell news conference at Memorial Stadium, he started to talk, broke down and ran off to the parking lot.On Saturday, hell break down, but this time Palmer wont head to the parking lot.

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A special night for Barry Trotz on his return to Washington

A special night for Barry Trotz on his return to Washington

WASHINGTON — Barry Trotz stood on an the unfamiliar visitors’ bench and scanned the rafters at Capital One Arena as the national anthem played. 

It had to be around here somewhere. He looked to one side of the scoreboard and then the other. Finally his eyes locked on the 2018 Stanley Cup banner hanging in the south end of the arena, a testament to a season he will remember the rest of his life. 

"I was just focused on the game. Until the national anthem, I didn’t even know where it was,” Trotz said. “I was looking on the other side, around the clock, and then I turn around and there it is. That’s a proud moment for everybody involved: ownership, Ted Leonsis, and [Brian MacLellan] in management, and the players and everybody, the fans. That’s the one you want.” 

Trotz could afford a reflective mood as he spoke after a 2-0 win against the Capitals in his first game back in Washington since leading the franchise to its first Stanley Cup last June. The Islanders broke a scoreless tie with two goals in the third period just 2:26 apart. They are the surprise of the NHL after losing star center John Tavares to free agency last summer. They are all alone in first place in the Metropolitan Division now well past the halfway point of the season. 

Trotz stayed focused before the game. He arrived hours before game time and holed up in his office trying to figure a way the Islanders could win the second of a back-to-back against the rested Capitals.

At the first television timeout of the first period, Trotz steadied himself for the video tribute the Capitals put together. There, on the giant scoreboard, the indelible images flashed: Trotz at his opening press conference in 2014, promising his new team had what it took to win a championship, winning the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year, laughing with his players, skating the hot laps during last year’s playoffs, lifting the Stanley Cup. The Capital One Arena crowd stood and roared for the entire break in the action.  

“My heart got full of all the good memories,” Trotz said. “I was looking up there. I was trying not to look too much because I was getting pretty close to that sensitive side of myself. But it was extremely well done and it was just great memories. Everybody was a part of something special.”

Afterward they had another mini reunion outside the Washington locker room, his home for four years. Trotz and Lane Lambert, his assistant for all four years with the Caps, chatted with players as they came out. It wasn’t as emotional as the championship ring ceremony when the two teams first met on Nov. 26 in Brooklyn. Trotz’s voice wavered as he addressed his former players before that game. This time was all laughs. 

Capitals assistant Blaine Forsythe was there and head coach Todd Reirden briefly stopped by. Tom Wilson and Matt Niskanen and Devante Smith-Pelly came over to say hello. Brooks Orpik, who had a memorable night of his own with a ceremony for playing in his 1,000th NHL game earlier in the week, leaned against a wall and chatted with Trotz and Lambert, who jabbed Caps goalie coach Scott Murray and said he better have a “hotter suit” the next time they meet, which will be in New York on March 1.

Maybe then the Islanders will have come down to earth or maybe Trotz is in the midst of another magical season. Maybe these two teams, with so much shared history, are destined to meet again in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“They’ve got the same team. They’re a good hockey team. There’s no question,” Trotz said. “They’ve got lots of mettle and it starts with their leadership and [Nicklas Backstrom] and [Alex Ovechkin] and that core group….That whole group, Johnny Carlson, all the guys that have here for a long time, they’ve got lots of mettle. I’m fortunate to have another great group to work with on the Island. As I said to them, I hope we can have the same experience down the road. It’s special doing that.”

 

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Barry Trotz returns to DC and hands the Capitals a fourth straight loss

Barry Trotz returns to DC and hands the Capitals a fourth straight loss

The New York Islanders outlasted the Capitals in a defensive battle Friday with two third period goals to hand Washington a 2-0 loss in Barry Trotz's return to Capital One Arena. The loss is now the Caps' fourth straight and knocks them down to third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Here are three reasons Washington lost.

Defense

You could definitely see the effect Barry Trotz has had on this Islanders team in this one. Last year, the Islanders were laughably terrible on defense. On Friday, they frustrated the Caps offense all night long.

New York was positionally sound all game long, forcing the Caps to the outside and limiting all of their offensive opportunities. Every time it looked like Washington had a rush developing, the Islanders got back and got in front of the puck. Every time the Caps tried to set up their offense, New York forced them to the perimeter and kept them from the high-danger areas. Thomas Greiss was there to clean up the rest as he recorded his second shutout of the season.

Washington was limited to just 19 shots on goal on the night, 15 through the first two periods.

A third period breakthrough

Braden Holtby looked very sharp for the Caps all night long in his first game since he suffered an eye injury on Jan. 12. He was finally beaten in the third period thanks to a great deflection by Josh Bailey.

Mathew Barzal showed some great puck control as he entered the offensive zone, wheeled around away from the initial defensive pressure, carried it to the high slot and fired a shot. By wheeling around, that allowed Bailey the chance to park himself in front of Holtby for the deflection.

In such a tight defensive game, you knew it was going to be an ugly goal like Bailey’s that would finally break through.

A third-period 2-on-0

John Carlson pinched into the offensive zone. When that happens, that means it’s Michal Kempny’s job to hightail it back on defense if the puck gets past Carlson.

Instead, Kempny tried to step up and to try to keep the puck in at the blue line. Cal Clutterbuck got the puck past him, and it was off to the races with him and Matt Martin on a 2-on-0. Clutterbuck called his own number and finished off the play with the goal to put the Islanders up 2-0.

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