Well, it took 17 pretty lousy weeks in the Baltimore sports world to finally have a pretty good seven days.
The bit of good fortune started April 23, but it was anything but happenstance. The Ravens had another very solid and maybe a spectacular draft, kicking it off with LSU inside linebacker Patrick Queen at No. 28 on the first night of the draft.
Ravens GM Eric DeCosta made four picks in the third round April 24, but only after grabbing by far the best player available with the 23rd pick of the second round in Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, whom the team was shocked to see still available. For the record, longtime ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had Dobbins as his 27th-best player in the entire draft. DeCosta was able to get him with the 55th overall pick.
And that was a trend that continued in the third round when the Ravens made those four picks. They first selected talented Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike with the 71st pick. Kiper had him at 42. Next up, the Ravens dipped into the deep wide receiver pool and plucked world-class speedster Devin Duvernay out of Texas with the 92nd pick in the draft. Kiper had him at 64.
Then the Ravens fortified their inside linebacker spot and picked another Ohio State product in Malik Harrison with the 98th pick, some 24 spots later than Kiper had him at 74. They waited until their fifth pick of the draft to pick a potential replacement for perennial All-Pro right guard Marshal Yanda. They took Mississippi State offensive tackle Tyre Phillips with the 106th pick. Again, they registered value on the Kiper scale. Phillips was ranked 83rd by Kiper.
Day 3 may not go down as successful as Day 2, but in the Ravens didn’t miss out on getting potentially solid depth pieces with their four picks in Rounds 4-7. Round 4 saw the Ravens go with Michigan guard Ben Bredeson. In time, he could be an upgrade on James Hurst, and the word is he has a photographic memory, so learning the playbook won’t be a problem.
In the fifth round, the Ravens went with Texas Tech defensive tackle Broderick Washington Jr. Then they moved into the sixth round to snag SMU receiver James Proche. One mock had Proche going as high as the fourth round, while most projected him as a fifth-rounder. It was Kiper who said he’d be a “real good pick in the fifth round.”
And then with their last pick of this draft (No. 219), the Ravens took Geno Stone, a safety and special teamer from Iowa. Kiper and many others rate him as a real steal in the seventh round and feel he’ll work his way in as a special teams ace.
So after three great days for the Ravens, what could possibly top that?
How about a Zoom meeting set up by the Orioles to give reporters their first opportunity to see (virtually, of course) and ask questions of Trey Mancini? Mancini left Orioles camp March 5. It was just two days later when the club announced that Mancini was having a non-baseball related medical procedure.
On March 12, the club announced that Mancini had been operated on to remove a malignant tumor in his colon.
So this was the first time the O’s press corps was seeing and talking to Mancini, even if it was by means of the video conference call. Mancini was joined in the conference by Orioles GM Mike Elias, senior vice president of community development and communications Jennifer Grondahl and about 14-15 very uplifted reporters.
Reporters can be fairly cynical and blasé on a lot of occasions with players, but the normally objective group was genuinely excited to see Mancini looking and sounding so upbeat. He is so popular with the media because of his consistent personality. He is a pro’s pro and is respected as such.
This Zoom video conference came just one day after Mancini’s essay about his diagnosis and road to recovery was published by The Players’ Tribune.
The questions for Mancini centered in large part around his reaction to finding out he had stage 3 colon cancer and whose well wishes were particularly meaningful. In this, he talked about his father, Tony, who also had colon cancer, as well as Brooks Robinson and fellow cancer fighter Mo Gaba.
He let reporters in a bit on his treatment regimen. He has chemotherapy treatments twice a month, which seem to cause him three or four days of weakness, loss of taste and some nausea, and that is followed by 10 good days.
Mancini admitted that while “Breaking Bad” is his favorite TV show, he is enjoying the Baltimore-centric series “The Wire.”
In a previous Zoom video conference, Elias made it clear without really speaking for Mancini that 2020 was not a realistic time frame for Mancini to be back out on the field. In this meeting, Mancini was clearly talking about his comeback in 2021 terms.
He is doing some light workouts — including some jogging to keep his strength up — as he looks toward a full off-season to get back in top shape.
But if there are any doubts about his playing next season, Mancini wasn’t having any of it.
“I fully expect to make a full recovery,” Mancini said. “I have no doubt in my mind I’ll be back playing baseball.”
I don’t know what could make one week any better in Baltimore sports.