Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 27, 2016 at 8:52 AM
THE BASEBALL UPDATE: BIRDS MAY BE BEST STORY IN AL
NBA FREE AGENCY QUICK-HITTER NOTES WITH KNICKS & SPURS SAID TO BE HEAVY HITTERS STARTING LATER THIS WEEK
Know what?We sure as heck should have given out more "love" to the Baltimore Orioles in our most recent edition of Jim Sez.
Okay, so let's refresh your memory as our just-past-weekend column yakked about the top series - all, as a matter of fact in the American League -- including Boston at Texas (the Rangers copped two-of-three wins), Houston at Kansas City (the surging 'Stros won two-of-three) and Cleveland at Detroit (yup, the Tribe "broomed" the Tigers three straight and second-year Motown manager Brad Ausmus might not have his job just when you read this day's copy) and we gave the O's rather short shrift by saying you could "chuck 'em into the mix" when it comes time to settling the five playoff berths in the junior circuit.
Apologies, Mr. Buck Showalter and Company.
The Birds (45-30) not only swept a four-game weekend set at home against the Tampa Bay Rays - outscoring 'em 31-14 - but they wake up to start the new work week with a solid four-game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East and sitting pretty with the league's second-best mark behind only the still-underrated Rangers (49-27).
Just remember when we started off this here-and-now 2016 Major-League Baseball season, the Orioles had an over/under wins total projected as 80.5 ... basically the "experts" said the O's would be your run-of-the-mill .500 team but instead here's Showalter's crew playing .600 ball with the AL's top home run team (117), second in runs scored (365) and a better-than-expected 4.17 team ERA that ranks 'em a not-so-terrible seventh among 15 AL squads.
This past series against the Rays, the Orioles were laying - 144 behind RHP Yovani Gallardo, - 157 behind RHP Kevin Gausman in the first game of a day/night doubleheader, - 145 behind All-Star-to-be RHP Chris Tillman (10-1, 1.21 WHIP) and - 130 with RHP Tyler Wilson and it turned out to be "easy money" with slugger Chris Davis whacking a first-inning grand slam and CF Adam Jones going 4-for-4 in Sunday's 12-5 win that made Baltimore go to 31-13 at Camden Yards (you got it, the best home record in the bigs) and now the O's head west for a couple of Interleague games in San Diego on Tuesday/Wednesday and a four-game set in Seattle beginning Thursday night.
We'll see if the oddsmakers have the Orioles in the road favorite role for some of this week's sked ... or will the Las Vegas guys/gals continue to underestimate as, ooops, apparently we did the other day!
Hey, the Indians and Rangers sure-as-heck proved they belong in that argument regarding the top five teams in the AL this year but we all better slip the Birds into that particular discussion - no just "chucking into the mix" junk, you know!
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of Major-League Baseball daily winners these days (won 12 of last 13 Blue Ribbon Games!) and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners. Plus, the Football Season isn't that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August - can't wait!
NBA FREE AGENCY
Guess there's been a whole lot of media reporting that the New York Knicks and the San Antonio Spurs will be heavily involved in the free agency market that officially begins this Friday (July 1st) but these teams surely are going about things from a very different perspective.
The Knicks - who have not been in the playoffs the past three seasons - have mucho holes to fill despite last week's ballyhooed trade acquisition of veteran PG Derek Rose and the alleged $31 million in cap room could include reuniting with G Jeremy Lin ... what, you don't want another dose of "Linsanity" in the Big Apple? ... and perhaps signing current Chicago Bulls free agent Joakim Noah who's "tight" with Rose and has expressed a desire to play for the Knicks.
As far as the Spurs go, they're prepping - one of these days - for a retirement announcement from iconic Tim Duncan and word is Gregg Popovich's squad plans to make a run at Noah along with Memphis PG Mike Conley and possibly even New Orleans shooter Ryan Anderson.
Gotta believe that the one-time "big three" of Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all will be gonesville from San Antonio following the 2016-17 campaign and so the always-intelligent Spurs could rake in three or even four free agents starting later this week.
Finally, let's do our own little game of mix-and-match with an array of unrestricted free agents:
Boston's Evan Turner will be on the radar of the Miami Heat;
Charlotte's Nic Batum won't rule out a return to the Portland Trail Blazers;
Indiana's Ty Lawson could wind up dribbling with the Memphis Grizzlies once Conley exits town;
And Sacramento PG Rajon Rondo could be wearing the "uni" of the Chicago Bulls.
NOTE: We will begin our annual summertime NFL team-by-team quick hitters in the next edition of Jim Sez plus there's more Baseball and NBA Free Agency news too.