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Joe Polek

Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters. Joe is a huge sports fan, but most importantly he lives and breathes Baltimore (and Maryland) sports. He routinely gets back to Baltimore for a Ravens game once a year, and while living in Maine, went to Foxboro and Fenway whenever the Ravens or Orioles came to town. A couple of his highlights were being at the final game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, and also sitting in left field for “2130”, and “2131” (Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak). Find Joe on Twitter at @JPonSports.

PiR: Despite Down Year, Hardy Still a Key to O’s Success

baseball batter holding bat in front of him before swinging back to hit
REALITY: The Baltimore Orioles are 69-73 on the season, tied for 3rd with Tampa Bay in the AL East. They are just one game up on the Boston Red Sox for last place. PERCEPTION: On August 1, the Orioles were 53-50 and in second place in the division. On July 1, the O’s were 42-36 and led the AL East. The Orioles have fallen hard, fast. They can still finish above .500 which is the goal that Buck Showalter should be pushing hard on this team. They can’t give up. […]

PiR: Time to Give the AAA Guys a Chance

Tyler Wilson pitches during Spring Training.
REALITY: The Baltimore Orioles are six games under .500 and are in 4th place in the AL East. PERCEPTION: Last week, I ended this column with “I have not given up hope yet”… well, a week later, I have. The Orioles have now lost six in a row and are 1-12 in their last 13 games. They have already lost more games than they did last year, and are just two games ahead of the last place Boston Red Sox. That is how low this season has gotten. The numbers […]

PiR: Another DL Trip Just Latest Bad News for J.J. Hardy

close up of J.J. Hardy reacting to minnesota twins loss
REALITY: The Baltimore Orioles bullpen has once again proven to be a major asset to this team. PERCEPTION: Say what you want about Dan Duquette’s failure to bring in quality outfielders after losing Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, but the bullpen continues to be a place that DD has succeeded. Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, and Mychal Givens have been really good. As much heat as they have taken this year, Chaz Roe and Brian Matusz have been really good too. David Schoenfield of ESPN says he could see […]

PiR: Birds Crawl Back Into Second Wild Card

Matt Wieters bats during a spring training 2015 game.
REALITY: After just finishing their second three-game series in a week, the Blue Jays and Yankees play seven more games against each other. PERCEPTION: Toronto and New York have played six of their last nine games against each other, with Toronto winning four of the six. They will play each other seven more times in September. That is good news for the Orioles. The Blue Jays and Yankees just keep beating up on each other, and as the Orioles continue to win, it’s giving the O’s a chance to creep […]

PiR: Current Roster Barely Resembles Opening Day’s

Travis Snider mimicks eating after a hit for the Orioles.
REALITY: Chris Davis is hitting .249 with 29 home runs and 80 RBI thru 2/3 of the season, and will be a free agent after this season. PERCEPTION: Before the All-Star break, Davis was hitting .235. However, since the break, he is hitting .305. Not only is his average a lot better, but he has become a genuine threat at the plate again. Last year, he was not at all. In April/May/early June, he struck out over 40% of his at-bats and struggled to make contact that wasn’t a home […]

PiR: Orioles Still Fighting for the Playoffs

Orioles Still Have Good Playoff Chances
REALITY: The Baltimore Orioles made 2 trades and a couple other roster moves at the July 31 Trade Deadline. PERCEPTION: You can count me in with the people that think they did an above average job at the non-waiver deadline. If you look at players (not teams), the Orioles basically traded Zach Davies and Tommy Hunter for Gerardo Parra and Junior Lake. The money evened itself out with the Parra and Hunter trades. So you traded a MLB and MiLB pitcher for a MLB and MiLB outfielder. What was the […]

PiR: Which Direction Will the Front Office Take at Deadline?

head shots of dan duquette with orioles manager
REALITY:  One year ago, the Kansas City Royals were 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race and went to the World Series. On July 29, 2014, KC was 3 1/2 games behind in WC race–and played Game 7 of the World Series. DET starts this game 3 1/2 behind in WC. — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 27, 2015 PERCEPTION: The Baltimore Orioles are 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race right now, and are one game below .500. Do they have what it takes to pull off a […]

PiR: Huge Series in the Bronx Looms for Birds

fans standing in stands with yankees player standing in front
REALITY: In the Orioles’ previous eight games, they were 3-for-57 with runners in scoring position. Sunday, they were 6-for-10. PERCEPTION: The Orioles will live and die by RISP. If they hit over .300 with RISP, they are good enough everywhere else to win the division. If they go through more spurts hitting under .100 with RISP, they will fail to make the playoffs. REALITY: The Baltimore Orioles are 5-9 in the month of July. PERCEPTION: The Orioles were 10-10 in April, 13-16 in May, 18-10 in June, and are 5-9 so […]

PIR: Breaking Down the O’s .500 First Half

orioles player striking out with catcher behind him
REALITY: The Baltimore Orioles are 44-44 at the 2015 All-Star break. PERCEPTION: Being .500 at the All-Star break seems just about right for this team. In their first 52 games of the year, the O’s were 23-29 and in last place. As they began to get healthy, the Birds went on an 18-5 streak during a 23-game span, which took them from last place to first place in the American League East. But then the Orioles went into a tailspin, losing 11 of their last 14 games. That up and down […]

PIR: Orioles Midseason Record & What to Do with Flaherty

close up of Orioles player ryan Flaherty
Perception Is Reality REALITY: After 81 games, the Baltimore Orioles were 42-39. PERCEPTION: Before Sunday’s blowout win in Chicago, the Orioles were halfway done their 162-game regular season. That record is similar to the record the O’s have had in previous seasons. In 2014, the Orioles were 42-39 after 81 games. They were in second place, 1.5 games behind the Blue Jays. They ended that year 96-66 and won the AL East by 12 games. In 2013, Baltimore was 45-36 after 81 games. They were in second place, 3.5 games […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: O’s in 1st in Strong AL East

two Orioles team players smacking hands with crowd in background
REALITY: Jonathan Schoop is still in AAA-Norfolk. Schoop could be activated tomorrow or go to Norfolk — Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) June 28, 2015 PERCEPTION: I’m not sure there is a better front office at manipulating a roster than Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter. As I said last week in Perception is Reality, the Orioles have six outfielders, and sooner or later one of them is going to have to go. But right now, each of those guys has turned it up a notch, and they are playing really well. Buck […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: A “Flash” In the Pan, or An Evolving Starter?

flaherty orioles player batting crowd behind
REALITY: Jonathan Schoop is on his rehab assignment in Bowie. PERCEPTION: It is widely assumed that Jonathan Schoop is the starting second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. That means when he is deemed healthy enough to come back to the Orioles, he will start and Ryan Flaherty will go back to his back-up/utility IF role. But I am not sure I am all for that decision. Flaherty is proving himself to be a valuable member of this team. No, he is not going to slug a bunch of home runs (though […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: O’s Moving Up as Bats Heat Up

three orioles players giving high five
REALITY: Nolan Reimold is hitting .286 in his return to Baltimore. PERCEPTION: In four games, Reimold is 4-for-14, but of his four hits, he has two home runs and a triple. He has three RBIs and two walks. He has made some nice plays in LF and has outplayed any of the Orioles other options in LF. He should be given a chance to be the everyday LF. There is just one month to go until the trade deadline. The Orioles need to figure out who is going to be […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Welcome Back, Matty!

orioles player with bat behind body looking up for ball
REALITY: Matt Wieters was 2-for-5 with a Home Run and a triple on Sunday. He was also 2-for-3 on Friday with 2 RBI. PERCEPTION:  It appears that Wieters has not missed a step since he last played in May 2014. He is doing much better early in his return than I think any of us would have thought. I know I thought he would start slowly, just as J.J. Hardy has in his return to action. [Related: Watch Wieters homer and triple in his return] But Wieters playing well only […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: O’s Still Very Much Alive in Weak A.L. East

Matt Wieters bats during a spring training 2015 game.
REALITY: Matt Wieters is expected to return from the Disabled List Thursday and re-join the Baltimore Orioles. PERCEPTION: The Orioles, or Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, will have some tough decisions to make. Wieters is expected to DH on Thursday and catch on Friday. Having Wieters DH is not a big deal. Jimmy Paredes needs a break. Yes, he is still hitting .314 on the season, but in the last week, Paredes is hitting just .194 with 11 strike outs. It’s time to give him a rest, and Thursday sounds […]

Should O’s Add New Blood to Stagnant Offense?

batter at orioles baseball game holding bat waiting for ball
While the Orioles pitching has been very good, especially the young guys, the Orioles offense is struggling. Chris Davis has struck out in 42.6% of his at-bats this season. He is only hitting .212, the worst of any player on the Orioles roster who has played in over half of their games, except for Steve Pearce. Is it time to move on? Davis’ trade value has to be at its lowest since he has been on the Orioles, but some team has a need. He is a free-agent after the […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Offensive Help in Norfolk, If O’s Want It

baltimore orioles reimold waiting for pitch
REALITY: Ryan Lavarnway has three hits on the season. PERCEPTION: Lavarnway is the Orioles back-up catcher, and he is basically their Sunday catcher, as Buck doesn’t like to play the same catcher in a day game that follows a night game. Lavarnway is hitting 3-for-28, which is a .107 batting average. He has seven strike-outs. Yet in the 8th inning Sunday, with the bases loaded and the Orioles down by three runs, Buck decided to let him hit, when he had Caleb Joseph and J.J. Hardy on the bench. According to Roch Kubatko […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Parmelee to the Rescue?

baseball player blowing bubble gum while up to bat
REALITY: Mike Wright pitched a gem in his Major League debut Sunday, going 7 1/3 scoreless, allowing just four hits and no walks, striking out six. PERCEPTION: A month ago, fans would have been saying to flip out most of the starting rotation in order to get Wright a spot. But over the last month, the Orioles rotation has turned things around. According to Steve Melewski of MASN, they have four straight quality starts with an ERA of 1.24. They have had six quality starts in their last eight games, […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Can O’s Hit Reset Button on “ReOpening Day?”

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore
REALITY: The fans have proclaimed today “Re-Opening Day.” PERCEPTION: The Baltimore Orioles need a day to re-start. After starting the season off 13-16 and in last place in the AL East, they are 5.5 games out of first. The Boston Red Sox are also three games under .500 and have already had a closed-door players-only meeting. The Orioles season is far from lost, but at this point it just seems that they are struggling to put any sort of consistency together. After a losing road trip, they are just 5-11 […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Where are the Pitching & Defense?

baseball player kneeling with glove over head by base
REALITY: Going into Sunday, Orioles pitching had given up the most base on balls in Major League Baseball. PERCEPTION: That simply won’t cut it. The actual walk may not hurt you, but it’s what happens after the walk. Saturday’s game against the Red Sox was nearly lost because of what happened after the walks. As we know, that certainly would not be the first time walks have hurt the Birds this year. REALITY: Going into Sunday, the Orioles have given up the most Earned Runs in baseball. PERCEPTION: Simply put, […]
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