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From a Ravens fan who’s waiting for the most important off-season acquisition of 2007 to be finalized:  The signing of LB Terrell Suggs to a long term contract.
·         The more I see and hear Roger Goodell the more I like him. Unlike the unapproachable and distant Paul Tagliabue, who (with the exception of Bud Selig) imitated an ostrich better than any pro sport commissioner in recent memory, Goodell has tackled the tough issues head on.  Holding players to a higher level of personal conduct, banning alcohol at official team functions, investigating dog-fighting, and pressing the long overdue concussion issue.  Even though it’s not his turf fight, I fully expect him to get involved, somehow, in the burgeoning retired NFL player health benefits controversy.
·         By the way, Gene Upshaw needs to go.  There is absolutely no need to verbally and physically threaten ex-players for voicing their displeasure over the disability benefits issue.
·         As a dog owner I find the whole dog-fighting controversy sickening.  A few Sundays ago I watched video clips of dog fighting as part of the feature story of ESPN’s Outside the Lines.  I couldn’t watch; I had to turn it off. 
·         With the Feds now on the Michael Vick case, Mr. Ron Mexico may be the latest player to take involuntary leave in 07.
·         Speaking of leaving, isn’t it time the Orioles fired Terry Crowley?  I know the Birds lineup is not exactly 1930’s vintage Murderer’s Row, but they have too many players hitting ‘way below their lifetime average.  Maybe Jay Gibbons, Melvin Mora, Corey Patterson, and company need a new voice in their ear. 
·         Sam Perlozzo received a lot of heat over his handling of the starting pitching staff, particularly Jeremy Guthrie.  But when you look at it analytically, he made the right moves. The pitchers were tired and Sam went to his new pen, full of new arms.  The bullpen let him down, and has been doing so all year.
·         Last Orioles note (I promise): The Birds spent 42 million to revamp the bullpen and to save the starting pitching.  But it looks like the starting pitching is going to have to save the bullpen! Remember that unnamed baseball exec who, back in the early spring, laughed when told that the O’s spent over 40 mil on the bullpen?  Well?…….
·         Who won the Stanley Cup this year?  Wait a minute…….did they play hockey in 2007?  Does anybody care?
·         Media note:  Has anyone noticed the annoying way ESPN 1300’s Anita Marks asks her questions of her guests?  The host of the afternoon sports (allegedly) talk show cannot ask a simple question without rephrasing it 3 or 4 times.  Annoying.
·         I like NASCAR.  I can’t help it.  I blame it on the baseball strike in 1994-1995 when there was no baseball in the spring.  I had to watch something, even if it was a bunch of drivers making repetitive left turns.  Anyway, Dale Jr. is signing with Hendrick Motor Sports.  I can’t wait for Earnhardt Nation’s reaction to having their Boy on the same team with the man they love to hate the most, Jeff Gordon.  At Talladega, now they can throw beer cans at both Gordo and Junior.
·         The San Antonio Spurs give NBA fans everything they’ve been supposedly pining for: No controversy, no fighting in the stands, no rap sheets, and fundamental, dynamic team play.  And they get dissed by the media!  Maybe they should sign Rasheed Wallace in the off season to spice things up and give Stephen A. Smith something else to yell about.
·         The Cleveland Cavaliers are officially the Cleveland Cadavers. R.I.P.
·         First and only Soprano’s note:  David Chase ended the series with an episode that was a fitting coda to Tony Soprano’s fictional life.  UncertaintyUncertainty over Silvio’s survival.  Uncertainty over his sister Janice’s future.  Uncertainty over what his annoying, measly son A.J. was going to do with his life.  Uncertainty over who that strange dude was, going into the restroom.  If you’re not sure if Tony got whacked in the restaurant, fine.  If you’re not sure a federal indictment was in Tony’s future, that’s OK, too.  Chase wants you to feel that way.  But there’s no way that series would end with Brooklyn Boss Phil Leotardo alive and kicking.  I was certain of that!
·         Peter King annoys me almost as much as A.J. Soprano.  King, the resident Patriots Suck at Sports Illustrated, has officially ceded the 2007 NFL title to the Back Bay Boys.  But the Pats are getting a little too much run, a little too early, for my taste.  Nobody is in pads, and nobody has been hit yet.  Let’s wait for a few real games before the crowning, Peter.
·         The talking heads at the World Wide Leader and on various web sites are picking the top 4-5 NFL teams for 2007.  The Ravens are nowhere to be found.  I bet Brian Billick is not unhappy; this suits his style perfectly; low and under the radar – until you reach the target.
·         The Ravens off season acquisitions have received largely mediocre marks by the web sites.  I think they did just fine.  You can’t say they haven’t addressed the needs on the offensive line, and appear to have nabbed a couple of steals in the later rounds.  The other holes look to be nicely plugged.  PSL owners, start saving for your ’07 playoff tickets!
Photos by Sabina Moran

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Fran "The Fan" Vojik

About Fran "The Fan" Vojik

Fran Vojik has been a contributor to the Ravens24X7 site since 2005, first as a regular on the "Letters to T.L." page, then as the author of the Fran the Fan column. A huge Orioles and Ravens fan, he defines the term “homer.” A former season ticket holder of the Baltimore Colts, he now roots on the Ravens from his corner end zone seat in M&T Bank Stadium. His work makes him a regular traveler to various MLB and NFL cities and he’s watched both the Birds and Purple and Black in a variety of away stadiums. He brings a passionate and humorous perspective to the world of professional sports. Born in Highlandtown, and a graduate of Calvert Hall College and the University of Maryland, he lives on Furnace Creek in northern Anne Arundel County. He and his girlfriend, Sandy, have recently renovated his Man Cave, known as the “The Sports Palace," which contains many mementos from the Colts, Ravens, and Orioles. On days the Ravens play at home, Fran can usually be found tailgating at the Baltimore Fire Fighters Union Hall Local 734 , supporting the organization’s Widow’s and Orphan’s fund. More from Fran "The Fan" Vojik


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