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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.

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: A “Down” Year for AL East? Hardly!

american league stats for various teams
Reality: Manny Machado has been diagnosed with a right knee ligament sprain. The Orioles are expected to give more of an update on his condition sometime today. Perception: Orioles General Manager, Dan Duquette, said a disabled list (DL) stint is under consideration for Machado. “There will be some work he has to do to come back and play.” The shortest a player can be on the (non-concussion) DL is 15 days. But from everything I am seeing and hearing, it’s going to be longer than two weeks that Machado is […]

Looking Ahead to the Offseason, Where Tough Decisions Loom

dan duquette and buck showalter side by side talking
The Baltimore Orioles front office will have some really tough decisions to make this offseason. If they were the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, the decision would be easy…spend, spend, spend. But most teams in baseball are on a budget, and can’t afford to just give high-dollar contracts to every player. The Orioles are having their most successful season since 1997. They are leading the AL East and are in store to have home field advantage in the ALDS. They are five games back of Oakland for the […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Birds Flying on Wings of Unlikely Heroes

orioles player smacking base coach's hand while running by
Reality: The Orioles are 64-48 overall and 22-9 since June 30. They’re 34-23 on the road. They lead the Blue Jays by 5.0 games in the AL East. Perception: You would never guess the O’s would continue to be winning if I told you that Nelson Cruz, Steve Pearce, Chris Davis, and Adam Jones are all hitting under .203 since the All-Star break. But Delmon Young is hitting .414, David Lough is hitting .385, and Caleb Joseph is hitting .300 since the break. Those three players have combined for four […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Trade Deadline Decisions Loom

Gausman and Bundy before a Baysox game during national anthem
Reality: Four years ago today, the Orioles hired Buck Showalter as their manager. Perception: When the news broke, I tweeted “I like it, but it won’t matter.” I loved the thought of Showalter coming in to straighten out a terrible Orioles team. But after 14 losing seasons I didn’t think it would make a difference…I am so glad that I was wrong. In the 57 games he managed the O’s in 2010, they went 34-23. They struggled in 2011, finishing 69-93, but then turned it around. 93-69 in 2012, 85-77 […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: O’s Winning Despite Lack of Offense

orioles player swinging bat during baseball game
Reality: The Orioles are not hitting the ball, but continue to find ways to win. Perception: The Birds are 16th in baseball in payroll…that’s good, because their best players are not highly paid. Nick Markakis has the highest salary this year, and I’m fine with that. He should have been an All-Star and he has played well offensively and defensively. Adam Jones is next highest, and that’s fine too. Ubaldo Jimenez is the 3rd highest, and Chris Davis is the 4th highest…they are not producing. Jimenez is on the DL, […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Imagine If Things Start Going Right!

catcher for orioles making a face
Reality: The Orioles are 10 games over .500 and have a 4.0-game lead in the AL East. Perception: That fact is truly remarkable when you look at all the O’s have gone through this season. MASN’s Roch Kubatko wrote all about that in his column Monday morning. If you haven’t read it, you need to for proper perspective on the Birds season so far. But here is just a glimpse… Manny Machado missing the first month and then being suspended. Matt Wieters having Tommy John surgery. Jonathan Schoop and Ryan […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: de la Rosa on O’s Radar?

colorado pitcher about to throw pitch
Reality: The Non-waiver trade deadline is July 31st. Perception: The Orioles are looking to be buyers at the deadline. Rock Kubatko of MASN says the O’s “are in the market for pitching… a starter and a reliever.” I think most fans would be glad to hear that, but where do the Orioles make room on the roster for a trade? You have to trade from your strengths, which for the Orioles would be in the minors. They would need to give away some quality minor league players to upgrade their major […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Pearce Fierce, Stop the Gausman Yo-Yo!

Kevin Gausman throws in Spring Training for the Baltimore Orioles, 2013.
Reality: Steve Pearce is hitting .327 with 12 doubles, 10 HR, and two stolen bases in just 46 games.  Perception:  Pearce has proven his worth. His first half would be solid for 81 games, though it’s just been 46. Over his last 13 games, he is hitting over .375 with six homers. He had three home runs in his first six at-bats against the Rangers in this series. It’s simply remarkable. I have a hard time putting my head around it. This is a guy who was DFA’d two months […]

Logjam in Left May Trigger a Trade

two orioles players smiling one running by the other
Too Many Options Is Not A Bad Thing, But Change Must Happen   For most of the first two months of the 2014 baseball season, the Orioles were in flux in left field. In the offseason, it seemed liked just about anyone who had ever played left field was picked up by the O’s and given at least a minor league contract. The options for left field were numerous, but the favorite was obvious. The Orioles traded for David Lough because he was a younger version of last year’s left […]

Where’s The Birds’ Home Cookin’?

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore
Is the magic back? #Orioles have scored 3 runs in first 7 innings and 10 runs after the 8th inning in last 3 games. Its needed again today. — Joe Polek on Sports (@JPonSports) June 27, 2014 The Orioles have had some late inning heroics recently that have helped them avoid some bad losses. The O’s could have used that late inning magic in Game 1 of their Day/Night Doubleheader Friday. Where is the offense at home? Camden Yards is known as a “hitter’s park”… so why are the Orioles struggling […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Gonzo Odd Man Out?

orioles player in dugout wiping forehead with towel on arm
Reality: Miguel Gonzalez has allowed 17 hits and seven runs over 10 innings in two starts since coming off the disabled list with a right oblique strain. Perception: The Baltimore Orioles seem to be working on a 6-man rotation, even though manager Buck Showalter won’t officially call it that. It will probably change after this weekend against the Rays, especially with a double header after a day off. So who missed out on their spot in the rotation? Right now it appears to be Gonzalez. He is not helping himself […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: O’s Need A Catcher With Some Pop!

orioles baseball player up to bat during practice
Reality: Matt Wieters had Tommy John surgery Tuesday afternoon and the Orioles hope he is ready to start the 2015 season. Perception: The Orioles also hoped that Manny Machado would be ready for the 2014 season and he missed the first month of the season, so don’t get your hopes up that Wieters is in the Opening Day line-up next season. But the bigger issue is this: how are the Orioles going to recover the offense and defense behind the plate? Defensively, the Orioles are set. Caleb Joseph has played […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Joseph’s Defense Keeping Him Behind Plate

orioles baseball player up to bat during practice
Reality: Manny Machado issued an apology, but it will take time to regain what he had. Perception:  After clearing the benches twice over the weekend, and reportedly smiling after Athletics catcher Derek Norris was hit in the head by a backswing, Machado lost a lot of respect throughout baseball among players, fans, and media. Oakland’s Norris labeled Machado’s behavior “a disgrace to baseball,” and said “things like that stain your career.” The A’s weren’t the only ones saying Manny needed to grow up. Quotes from players across baseball were showing […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: O’s Need to Cook at Home in June

fans in stands at baseball game with view of brick building
Reality: The O’s added Johan Santana to the 40-man roster this week. Perception:  The roster shuffle will continue, especially when it comes to the pitching staff. It appears Tommy Hunter will be activated from the disabled list no later than June 9th. Johan Santana opted out of his minor league deal with the Orioles, so they moved him to the 15-day DL, and subsequently on the 40-man roster, meaning he’s on the big league club, not a minor league contract anymore. They had an opening on the 40-man roster when […]

Samardzija’s Body of Work Doesn’t Justify Asking Price

view of ball coming towards you with pitcher behind it
If you’ve been watching baseball for any amount of time, then you know that if a team wants to win in the post season, then they need quality pitching to make that happen. A powerful offense can help you win games during the regular season but shutdown pitching is what allows you the chance to win games in the playoffs. The Orioles have one of the best offenses in baseball, and despite an unusual amount of errors for this team, they still have one of the best defensive teams in […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Bats Wake Up, Arms Take a Nap

orioles baseball player looking out to field after hitting ball
Reality: The Orioles offense has woke up, but the pitching hasn’t. Perception: The Birds have scored 49 runs over their last 8 games. However, the Orioles are just 4-4 in those games. The team is finally getting the hits we all thought this team would get with its potent lineup. The bottom of the lineup (sans Lough) is even contributing in key situations. But the pitching is a different story. Starters are still not getting deep into games, which continues to show that the O’s still don’t have a true […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: More Missed Opportunities

orioles player steve pearce making a face
Reality: The Baltimore Orioles have scored 30 runs in their last four games, but are 1-3 in those games. Perception:  It seems the Birds have broken out of their hitting slump, for the most part. But as good as their bats have been, they have still struggled in areas. In those four games, they have left 35 runners on base and went 16-for-41 with runners in scoring position (.390). How many times can a team have the bases loaded and no outs and not score? Reality: David Lough is hitting […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Time to Sell Low on Lough?

batter for baltimore orioles
Reality: The Baltimore Orioles signed Heath Bell to a minor league contract. Perception: Bell made his debut with the Norfolk Tides over the weekend and pitched a 1-2-3-inning, throwing just eight pitches and six for strikes. But some are still asking… Why sign Heath Bell? As Roch Kubatko said, “It was a no-risk minor league deal. A classic Dan Duquette depth signing. Bell could be Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Tejada, Jaime Moyer or Conor Jackson. Insert your favorite veteran who never made it to Baltimore. Or maybe he’s Nate McLouth, Lew Ford, […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: O’s Better Than the Sum of Their Parts

back view of orioles player up to bat before hitting ball
Reality: The Baltimore Orioles are in the bottom half of the league in most statistical categories, yet they are winning. Perception: The Orioles have the 6th best record in baseball and the other five teams are all in first place in their respective divisions as well. The O’s are the only division leader that has been outscored by opponents. They are 22nd out of 30 teams in baseball in runs scored. They are 19th in home runs, and 16th in RBIs. The Orioles are 21st in ERA, 28th in Quality […]

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: No Separation Early in AL East

orioles pitcher chen after just throwing ball
Reality: Orioles starters need to lower pitch counts and go deeper in games. Perception:  The starting pitching staff for the Birds usually do pretty well through three or four innings. After that, there are no guarantees. Only Chris Tillman has averaged six innings per start. Each starter has give up more hits than innings pitched, while also having fewer than a strike outs per inning. Those two stats show that pitchers are needing too many pitches to get through games. And it’s showing in their records. Starters are 10-12, while […]
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