Friday, June 29, 2007
In other news from last night:
-The O's and Yankees are responsible for the rule change that cost the Birds a rain-shortened win. Or are they?
The AP and The Washington Post tell somewhat different stories about rule changes.
From the AP:
"Before 1980, the score would have reverted to the start of the inning, giving the Orioles a 6-4 win. But the rule was changed after a game on Aug. 13, 1978, when Baltimore led 3-0 after six innings and the Yankees scored five runs in the top of the seventh. "
From The Post:
Had the game unfolded last season, the Orioles would have won. Under the old rule, the game is taken back to the last completed inning, and the result stands."
"He just tried to make Jeter hit so they can score one run and they can get out of here. That's what I think," said Mora, making a comment that could draw attention from the commissioner's office.
Mora said that he couldn't even see the ball cross home plate, and told Tschida that before Jeter's at-bat.
"I just asked [Tschida], 'You don't think it's too wet?' And he just started yelling at me and cursing. I said, 'You don't have to curse at me for asking a question.' And he was upset. I said, 'This is worse than when you stopped the game when we were winning. Why aren't you going to stop it now? I can't even see the ball.' And he was just cursing and cursing and cursing, and I was like, 'OK, this is not good.'"
"I've never pitched in rain like that before," Ray said. "I was just trying not to throw the ball to the backstop. When they called it in the seventh inning and we had something going and it wasn't raining nearly as hard, and then it's pouring down rain and we're just out there in terrible conditions."
Compiled by Matthew Taylor
By Matthew Taylor
It looked like the Orioles had taken the lead at just the right time on Thursday night. The team rallied to go ahead 6-4 in the 7th inning, the heavens opened, and the sweep of the Yankees seemed to be complete.
Instead, the game re-started after an 18-minute delay, giving the Yankees an opportunity to score four runs in monsoon-like conditions. The game was delayed - and later suspended - after New York took the lead. The teams will pick up where they left off (on July 27, according to The Sun) with New York leading 8-6 in the 8th inning. Presumably, the weather conditions will be different.
Here's the rule in question:
4.12 SUSPENDED GAMES.(a) A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons: (1) A curfew imposed by law; (2) A time limit permissible under league rules; (3) Light failure or malfunction of a mechanical field device under control of the home club. (Mechanical field device shall include automatic tarpaulin or water removal equipment); (4) Darkness, when a law prevents the lights from being turned on; (5) Weather, if a regulation game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead, and the home team has not retaken the lead ....
Melvin Mora argued vigorously with umpires Tim Tschida and Jim Joyce at the start of the second rain delay that the game should've been halted sooner. Amen, Melvin. Amen.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
by Matthew Taylor
The Durham Bulls have announced that Rick Dempsey will appear at the team's July 3rd game to sign autographs and throw out the first pitch.
Dempsey in Durham? It doesn't make sense on the face of it. The Bulls are affiliated with the Devil Rays; the Mudhens are affiliated with the Tigers. Check out the sponsor, though, and the picture becomes more clear.
It's a shrewd move by MASN to strengthen its ties to the North Carolina market. The Birds were the nearest Major League Baseball team until the Nats started playing ball in D.C., and O's games are regularly televised in the state.
Since MASN broadcasts both the O's and the Nationals, it doesn't matter which organization gets top billing at Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP). However, the O's have more retired players with name recognition than do the Nats, and fans in North Carolina already have a history with the Birds.
If you haven't been to a game at the DBAP, it's well worth the drive. Having Rick Dempsey there is an added bonus. Time for a road trip.
"JULY 3RD CELEBRATION FEATURES FORMER MVP
Don't miss your chance to meet 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey at the July 3rd game between the Durham Bulls and Toledo Mudhens presented by MASN. Before tossing out the ceremonial first pitch, Dempsey will host an autograph and photo session with from 6pm-6:45pm on the main concourse. Also during the game, the Bulls will wear special edition Red, White and Blue jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit Meals on Wheels. Get your tickets here."
UPDATE: Turns out that MASN is actually fighting with Time Warner over channel position in North Carolina. The team - and perhaps more accurately, the network - needs all the positive publicity it can get, according to the News & Observer.
In an e-mail, Time Warner spokeswoman Melissa Buscher said that the cable provider believed Orioles and Nationals games were "of little interest" to its customers in North Carolina.
"MASN has insisted on carriage on our basic tier, which would result in almost all of our customers having to pay for a service which very few have any interest in," Buscher said.
Orioles games had been available in the Triangle for more than two decades until MASN obtained the baseball rights to this market from FSN South this season.
"When MASN pulled the rights to these games from Fox Sports Net in 2006, we received virtually no calls from customers," Buscher said.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
by Matthew Taylor
They say in Annapolis that it doesn't matter what Navy's football team does any other game of the year as long as they beat Army. It's not exactly the same situation in Baltimore, but I do find that a Birds series win over the Yankees helps heal some of this fan's constant baseball pain.
Each series against New York is almost a season of its own, which means the O's are doing pretty well in 2007. Here are some of my favorite moments from the the first two games of this week's match-up with the Yankees:
-Rick Dempsey butchering player names in "O's Extra," including my personal favorite, Milk-y Cabrera.
-Learning that the Yankees have the fewest saves in baseball this season; yes, even fewer than the Orioles.
The only objective Yankee fan I know told me during the team's recent win streak that he didn't think they could catch the Red Sox - or even make the post-season, for that matter - because their bullpen is so bad. That's not something you commonly hear about the Yankees, but it has a nice ring to it.
-Zero strikeouts for Roger Clemens, ending his streak of 200 consecutive starts with at least one strikeout.
As usual, Joe Torre provided plenty of spin for the Rocket: "I think Roger, knowing the conditions, always has a plan. There was never really a situation where he needed a strikeout Roger was thinking more about contact than striking people out, though it was an oddity."
I hope the Rocket is sharing some of his ridiculous wealth with Torre for the manager's PR efforts.
-Denying Clemens win No. 350.
-My wife's comment after Aubrey Huff's three-run home run on Wednesday night: "I'm going to have to change my opinion of Aubrey Huff. I'm not used to him getting big hits."
No, hon, you were right in the first place.
-O's fans yelling "I got it" to Alex Rodriguez as he ranged into foul territory for the final out of the 7th inning.
-Chad Bradford ringing up Jorge Posada with a wicked third strike on a full count in the 8th inning. With two runners on, one out, and the tying run in the on-deck circle, the setting was starting to look all too familiar.
-Hearing cheers for the Birds in Camden Yards during a series against New York, including a very audible "Yankees Suck" number late in the game.
-With absolutely no apologies to John Sterling: "Orioles win! Theeeeeeeee Orioles win!"
-Waking up Thursday morning and reading an AP story with this wonderful lead:
"This was one personal accomplishment that Roger Clemens really wanted, mostly because it would provide the New York Yankees with a lift they desperately needed.
It was a win-win situation. Clemens earns his 350th victory, and the Yankees end a three-game losing streak.
Unfortunately for Clemens and the Yankees, that scenario did not play out Wednesday night at Camden Yards.
Clemens was denied his milestone win, his streak of consecutive starts with a
strikeout ended at 200, and the Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles 4-0."
Monday, June 25, 2007
by Matthew Taylor
The present ain't so good, the future's not so bright, so why not relish the Orioles' glorious past?
On this day in 1970 Frank Robinson hit two grand slams for the Birds as the O's defeated the Washington Senators 12-2. Check out the box score for the game, and you'll see the 8 RBIs next to Robinson's name. For his career, Robinson hit eight grand slams.
According to Baseball Almanac, only 12 players have hit two Grand Slams in a game, and three of them were Orioles: Jim Gentile (May 9, 1961); Robinson; and Chris Hoiles (Aug. 14, 1998).
Overall, Robinson batted .306, with 25 home runs, and 78 RBIs in 1970. He had a .398 on-base percentage, and a .520 slugging percentage. He walked just one less time (69) than he struck out (70), impressive numbers for a slugger.
As for the Birds, they won 108 games in 1970, taking the division by 15 games over the Yankees and beating the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. The team featured three 20-game winners (Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, and Dave McNally), three Gold Glove winners (Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair, and Davey Johnson), three future Hall of Famers (the Robinsons and Jim Palmer) and the AL MVP (Boog Powell).
Saturday, June 23, 2007
By Matthew Taylor
Yankee fans will boisterously tell you that the franchise is the best at, well, everything. Modesty does not come in pinstripes.
One thing in particular that the Bronx Bombers are good at is myth making. The organization has more legends - real and imagined - than perhaps any other professional sports team. From announcers to managers to players, myth making in New York is part of the job description.
On Saturday, Joe Torre attempted to add to Roger Clemens' real legend with what, if you're being generous, could be called hype. If you're being realistic, it's called propaganda. Pinstripe propaganda. More myth.
Asked to explain his team's recent run of success during one of Fox baseball's "informative" in-game interviews, Torre used the opportunity to blandish the Rocket. In short, Torre's thinking went, Clemens is the reason the Yankees have turned things around this month. Which, of course, is exactly what Clemens wants people to think. Too bad it's not true.
If Torre were being honest he could've offered a much simpler explanation for the Yankees' 14-6 record in June prior to Saturday's game against the San Francisco Giants: weak competition.
Aside from the Red Sox, whom the Yankees took two of three from to start the month, the combined monthly record for Yankee opponents in June is 46-71, good for a .393 winning percentage. Overall, those teams (the White Sox, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Mets, Rockies, and Giants) are a combined 209-225 for the season, good for a .481 winning percentage. In other words, the teams the Yankees have played during their win streak are either (a) not very good (the White Sox, Pirates, and Giants) or (b) they are slumping (the Mets).
Sure, the Mets are battling for first place in the NL East, but they headed into the Yankees series riding a four-game losing streak and having lost 10 of 12. The Yankees beat a slumping team.
Or consider the Rockies, the one hot team the Yankees have played since ripping off nine straight wins. Colorado came into the Yankees series having won 10 of 15 and continued their winning ways by sweeping the Evil Empire, who had previously won 10 of 12.
The truth is that the Yankees aren't as bad as their early-season run of futility would indicate. But they're also not as good as their June record suggests. And the Rocket is just a small part of it all.
Next up for New York: the Orioles. The trend continues.
Monthly Records of the Yankees' June Opponents (through Friday, June 22)
*Red Sox not included
White Sox: 5-15
29-41 overall, next to last place in the AL Central
31-42 overall, next to last place in NL Central
42-32 overall, tied for second in the NL West
Mets (2 of 3): 5-14
39-32 overall, first place in the NL East
38-36 overall, next to last in the NL West
30-42 overall, last place in the NL West
Combined opponents' records
June: 46-71, .393 winning percentage
Overall: 209-225, .481 winning percentage
Friday, June 22, 2007
Hernandez, the older brother of Seattle Mariners Ace Felix Hernandez, currently leads the Carolina League with nine wins. Hernandez (9-2, 3.09 ERA) was named to the Carolina League All-Star roster this season and pitched in the Carolina League vs. California League All-Star Game on June 19, hurling one inning and allowing two runs on two hits.
Attendance decline continues at Camden Yards;
Fans busy "washing their hair"
Is it just me, or is the Orioles' search for a new manager starting to resemble a bad dating experience?
Joe Girardi and Dusty Baker have both stated in some form that: they're flattered by the team's interest in them; the timing isn't right; and it's just not the right fit.
Girardi: In an interview with The Sun yesterday, Girardi, 42, didn't get into specifics, but said repeatedly that the job just wasn't a good fit for him right now.
"I was flattered that the Orioles called me," said Girardi. "It's a great city, a great organization. I have the utmost respect for Andy. As a coach or a player, I always loved going there [to Baltimore]. I am not going to get into a whole lot, but it just wasn't the right time for my family. I was impressed. But timing-wise, it just wasn't right."
Baker: "To me, the Orioles are a great organization and everything, and my passion is baseball," Baker said. "I want to get back into managing, but only if the right situation comes. Right now, it's a bit early for me. At this point, I would probably say it's not the right fit right now."
Next, Davey Johnson will tell Peter Angelos, "It's not you, it's me."
Thursday, June 21, 2007
As of 9:30 last night, MacPhail said, contract talks hadn't begun. … Still, all indications are that the job is Girardi's to accept. … Not having interviewed any other candidates fuels the perception that Girardi is the Orioles' man.
-- The Sun, Thursday, June 21
The coronation of Joe Girardi, former manager of the Marlins and current TV analyst for the Yankees, as the new Orioles manager sure is stalling longer than the Bay Bridge on the Fourth of July.
That leaves us to wonder about a few things:
1. Ever since his 2006 N.L. Manager of the Year award made him a hot commodity, could Girardi be holding out for a deal like Roger Clemens enjoys? He’ll only manage the O’s when they’re in New York or Chicago, where he has roots.
2. Why would anyone want to manage the Orioles, anyway? (This isn’t a joke. This is a serious question.)
3. Will Girardi get the same free pass his first year as was afforded Leo Mazzone in 2006? The pitching guru arrived in Baltimore last spring with high expectations that he could wave his magic wand and turn the Orioles pitchers into clones of those from his Atlanta years. Except it didn’t work out that way.
[Last year, only Kansas City pitchers walked more batters or had a worse ERA. But so far in 2007, the Orioles are sixth in the league in ERA, fifth in strikeouts and have allowed the fourth fewest homers. All this despite still leading the league in walks.]
4. Rick Dempsey says he’d love to manage the O’s. What would satisfy (or even excite?) more fans: Girardi at the helm or Dempsey as skipper of a team that simultaneously restores “Baltimore” to its road jerseys?
5. No matter who’s put in charge, could they please tell Kevin Millar to put his bat where his mouth is?
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
By Christopher Heun
Peter Angelos thinks the answer to the Orioles problems can be fixed by a guy who in 12 seasons steering the Cubs had a losing record of 915-1,011.
The Orioles formally introduced Andy MacPhail as the new president of baseball operations today. From 1994 to 2006, he was the president and CEO of the Cubs; during that time the team made the playoffs only twice, including 1998, when they managed to eke into the postseason by beating the Giants in a wild-card playoff.
In other words, nobody in The Warehouse will have to worry any time soon about the hassle of taking orders for playoff tickets.
To be fair, MacPhail was also GM of the Twins from 1985 to 1994, when the team won two World Series. But their overall record was just 787-784 during his tenure.
The 1987 Twins set a record for fewest regular season victories by a World Series champion with 85 (subsequently broken last year by the 83-79 Cardinals). In 1991, they won it all after having finished in last place the previous year.
For Orioles fans, the most depressing mark on the MacPhail resume is his own admission that the Cubs failed to produce young talent. When MacPhail resigned from the Cubs last October, he “admitted they have done a poor job of developing position players in the farm system.”
Despite all this, Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports thinks MacPhail is a good move:
“The hiring of former Cubs executive Andy MacPhail as chief operating officer is a step in the right direction, but only if Angelos recognizes the need for a greater overhaul.”
Maybe MacPhail can dig up an old copy of the Oriole Way handbook in his family’s attic. His father and grandfather are both in the Hall of Fame: Dad Lee MacPhail was the Orioles general manger from 1958-65 and later became the president of the American League; Between 1933 and 1947 Larry MacPhail was the chief executive of the Cincinnati Reds, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the New York Yankees.
When the season started, I thought about writing a sarcastic post comparing the Orioles chances this year with those of the Nationals, who looked like a lock to lose 100 games. But now, after sweeping a series at Camden Yards, the Nats actually have the better record.
And who is the president of the Nationals? Stan Kasten, the man who held the same position with the Atlanta Braves for 17 years, during which it won 12 consecutive division titles.
Makes you wonder which team, the Nats or the O’s, will turn it around first.
By Matthew Taylor
The term "roller coaster season" may be cliché, but it's becoming a way of life for Birds fans in recent years.
There are obviously more downs than ups any time you're talking about a team that's working on a 10-year losing streak. However, the O's have a way of plummeting particularly hard after offering glimmers of hope to a fan base that's starved for even the slightest hint that the dark clouds over Camden Yards might finally be parting. These sudden drops offer fresh ways of of piercing the armor of even the most hardened, pessimistic, underdog fans.
-Fourteen games over .500, 4.5 games up, on May 26.
-Sixty-two days in first place. Leading the AL East until June 23.
-A "near perfect weekend" in July when the Orioles took three out of four from the defending champion Red Sox heading into the All-Star Break.
-Palmerio three hits shy of 3,000 at the Break.
And then the bottom fell out.
Noone expected the Birds to win the AL East this season, but .500 was a realistic goal for 2007. Believe it or not, there was a guarded sense of optimism in Charm City during the first month of the season.
Looking back on some of The Sun's April coverage, two months seems like a lifetime ago.
Excerpts from: "Birds of a Feather; The O's Hang Out Together. Now, Can They Win Together?"
April 20, 2007
Walker, a 35-year-old veteran who made his big league debut 10 years ago, was one of 16 players or coaches who at the start of the month experienced their first Opening Day as Orioles. He was signed primarily because he was a left-handed reliever who could get people out, something that was sorely missing from the 2006 Orioles.
But he also fit in with what the front office has been trying to do for the past two seasons - repair a clubhouse that was fractured during the once-promising 2005 season because of losing, steroid allegations and other off-the-field problems.
"It was best available talent and then best available character. Those were the two criteria that we focused a lot on," club vice president Jim Duquette said. "It's been a concerted effort based on what happened in 2005. I am impressed with how quickly it has come together."
The Orioles, who bring an 8-7 record into the start of a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Camden Yards, have given off some mixed signals through the first three weeks of the season. Their overhauled bullpen has justified the front office's $42 million-plus investment. Their offense, defense and starting pitching have been good at times, but also prone to lapses.
But the longest-tenured members of the organization acknowledge there is a different feel in the clubhouse. They said that the 2007 Orioles are looser and closer-knit.
"That's a part of why we win," designated hitter-first baseman Kevin Millar said. "There is a feel of trust in this clubhouse. It's been awesome. Trust, caring for each other, pulling for each other - that equals W's. Your talent is going to take over for an extent, but you'll lose a lot of games when you don't have guys that care about each other."
Huff scoffed at the notion that clubhouse chemistry is overrated.
"That's [wrong]. If it's anything, it's underrated," Huff said. "I think if you have a team with good chemistry, it makes you play better baseball on the field. I've been on teams where guys couldn't stand each other and it was the most miserable season. I honestly believe that you can't win without it."
In the past, Orioles utility man Chris Gomez would have disagreed with Huff's statement. Gomez, 35, who is playing in his 15th major league season, said he has long felt camaraderie was overvalued. But he didn't feel that way after being in the dugout Monday when the team erased a six-run deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"I haven't seen excitement like that since I've been here," said Gomez, an Oriole since 2005. "Guys were pulling for each other. It was pure excitement over a game that we probably shouldn't have won. There was a lot of unselfishness between teammates. It probably does help."
Excerpts from: "Orioles' Pen is Mightier; Club's Relievers Retire Nine of 10 Batters as O's Rally to Win Series."
April 19, 2007
Bedard (3-1) left the game with two outs in the sixth inning and the Orioles' lead down to 5-4. But Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo used four relievers to get the last 10 outs, including closer Chris Ray, who struck out the side in the ninth for his fifth save. The bullpen retired nine of the 10 hitters it faced, helping the club improve to 8-7.
"It's unbelievable," said Ray, who has allowed one base runner in six appearances since surrendering the walk-off grand slam to New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez on April 7. "My job is a heck of a lot easier when you have all those guys before me going in there, setting the tempo, and keeping the momentum on our side and keeping the score the same when it gets to me. I'm throwing just one inning instead of an inning plus. The guys behind me are getting guys out left and right."
The bullpen, which was rebuilt this offseason to the cost of approximately $42 million after last year's group was the second worst in the league, allowed just six hits and one earned run in 13 innings of work.
"[The bullpen] has made all the difference in the world," said designated hitter Kevin Millar, whose bloop RBI double in the fifth inning scored Miguel Tejada and gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead. "That's what [the front office] attacked this offseason ... and it is paying off right now."
Excerpt from: "So Far, Orioles Right On Money With Their Revamped Bullpen."
April 17, 2007
But so far, so good.
Each of the Fab Four has been effective, with Walker (1.50 ERA in eight appearances) looking especially sharp. Fittingly, the only one who has looked slightly shaky (4.05 ERA in seven appearances) is the highest-paid: Baez, who signed a three-year, $19 million deal.You're probably looking at one of baseball's better bullpens when you throw in Ray, a star closer in the making, and left-hander John Parrish, who has pitched his way into the mix.
Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo is going to have to figure out how not to burn out Walker, Bradford and Ray, but having dependable options sure beats last year's nightmare.
As I said, it's still early and there are going to be hiccups, but protecting a larger percentage of their leads could propel the Orioles close to .500. The fact that they had to overpay doesn't matter. After years of botching patches, the sight of a solid bullpen is priceless.
To be fair, Eisenberg's column was cautious. For example, he acknowledged of the Orioles that, "During nine straight losing seasons, they have all but perfected the art of the BBP - the botched bullpen patch." Eisenberg added, "Throwing money at any pitching problem is a risky proposition these days. "
Orioles Warehouse notes, "there is value in having a columnist in Eisenberg who has covered the local team over a long period of time and in the process has acquired an intimate sense of its history and tradition."
In other words, Eisenberg has ridden this roller coaster before.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
By Matthew Taylor
With all due respect to Sam Perlozzo, whom we like and respect as a long-time member of the Orioles' growingly dysfunctional family, Roar from 34 is proud to announce the winners of the first-ever Sammy Awards.
Best Breaking News Coverage: To Mike Burke of The Cumberland Times-News for landing what may as well have been an exclusive interview with Sam Perlozzo.
Reporters couldn't get anywhere near their sources at Camden Yards yesterday afternoon, but Mike Burke from The Cumberland Times-News didn't need to. He landed the most thorough interview with Sam Perlozzo of any news outlet, drawing much more honesty from the former skipper than did the Associated Press.
Sometimes it pays to be the guy from the hometown paper (circulation: 32,000). Score one for the little guy.
Check out some of Perlozzo's comments to the Cumberland paper -
Of the fact that noone took a stand for him: "I'm going to be honest. Some people I have put a lot of work in for a lot of years never said anything. Yes, I think about it."
Of the team's handling of his job situation in recent weeks: "I told them they should have stepped up. When all this talk became public, and they didn't step up ... That would have resolved it. But they didn't step up, and no matter what, you don't do that to me. You don't do that to a guy who has been in the organization for 12 years and has done so many things for this organization. I told them they should have stepped up and said, 'Sam Perlozzo is our manager.' And then if they want to fire me two days later, fine. Just resolve it. But they didn't. You don't do that to me."
Of the manager being the team's scapegoat: "It doesn't matter how many right moves you make and it still doesn't work. The manager gets fired. But not with the Dodgers. They fire their hitting coach. Here, we keep reshuffling managers."
Read the full Cumberland News-Times article here.
Most Delusional Award: To Dave Trembley, for obvious reasons.
From The Sun:
"Trembley has been on the bench for every series except two, including the opener in Minnesota. He said he's in the mind-set that he's going to manage tonight's game in San Diego 'and every game after that.'
'I wasn't told that I'm the interim manager,' he said, 'and I'm not expecting that.'"
Rumor has it that Trembley's first order of business when the O's return from the West Coast will be to meet with the team's marketing department and discuss using 1989's "Why Not?" slogan again this season. (Note the sarcasm.)
"O" the Irony! Award: To the Birds brain trust, for naming their bullpen coach interim manager. I'm guessing they're going to put Danys Baez on the Orioles MVP ballot as well.
Déjà Vu Award: To Davey Johnson and Joe Girardi.
Stop me if you've heard this before: Skipper wins "Manager of the Year" award and immediately parts ways with his team because of a personality conflict with ownership.
Joe Girardi, meet Davey Johnson.
"15 Minutes of Fame ... or Less" Award: To the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx for celebrating their connection to interim manager Dave Trembley in a press release.
The "Taxi Driver" Award: To Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox.
"Francona refrained from comment on the firing of Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo. He joked about Kevin Millar's declaration that he planned to call a players-only meeting for today, a meeting that probably won't be held now that Perlozzo has been cashiered. 'We're all laughing,' Francona said about Millar, 'but you guys know I love him to death. He does a good job in the clubhouse. I'll bet you if he said something in the room, it would be worthy of people listening.'"
Cue Kevin Millar doing his best knock-off of DeNiro's famous "What are you lookin' at?" line ... "What are you laughin' at? Are you laughin' at me?"
Best Fan Reaction Story: To Jonathan Pitts of The Sun, for capturing the big picture. It's not just about what happened this week; it's about what's happened this decade.
"As the fortunes of the Orange and Black dwindled over the years, fans kept a reluctant truce with the team, even as the winning template, the so-called 'Oriole Way,' seemed to unravel strand by strand. But yesterday, as the O's were announcing the firing of yet another manager, fans sounded distinctly like lovers who had been betrayed too many times ...
That was a common refrain: It's not even the losing they hate. What offends them is a franchise - and players - who appear to lack interest."
Monday, June 18, 2007
By Christopher Heun
Approximate cost (in guaranteed salary remaining on his contract) of firing Danys Baez: $12.6 million
Approximate cost (in guaranteed salary remaining on his contract) of firing Sam Perlozzo: $1.0 million
Yeah, yeah, I know: you can’t fire the players, so you fire the manager. But couldn’t we try sacking a few slumping players and see how it works out? And then replace them with a player-manager?
By Matthew Taylor
The story of the day is of course Sam Perlozzo's termination. I first saw the news late this morning on the Orioles.com website. I found it rather humorous that the story stated - as late as 1 p.m. - that the Birds were reportedly going to fire Perlozzo and referenced ESPN.com as a source for the news.
Shouldn't the team's official website have the goods on this one? It's something akin to visiting the White House website and reading a story about how the U.S. is reportedly going to invade Iraq with CNN as the source for the news. I haven't seen someone get scooped like this since Vanity Fair reported that Mark Felt was Deep Throat.
For whatever it may lack in breaking team news, "The Official Site of the Baltimore Orioles" at least offers accurate team stats (as does MLB.com, the other source for this posting). Take a look at the numbers for the Birds' current starting rotation and you could make a strong case that the real loss from the Perlozzo firing will be that of pitching coach Leo Mazzone.
You've got to figure that Mazzone will skip town now that his good friend got the ax, and that should be sad news for O's fans. Say what you will about Mazzone, but the truth is he's done a very respectable job with the pitching staff. The O's have serious trouble in the bullpen. They have serious trouble at the plate. But - yes, I'm serious - the starters have put up very decent numbers thus far in 2007.
-Erik Bedard currently leads the major leagues in strikeouts with 112. He's averaging an impressive 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
-Jeremy Guthrie, a waiver-wire pick-up with an ERA over 6.00 last season, has strung together eight consecutive quality starts and currently has the sixth best ERA in baseball. (Brian Burres doesn't have enough starts to qualify, but his 2.94 ERA would rank near the top as well.)
-Overall, the Birds' injury-riddled staff has more pitchers in the Top 50 for ERA (Guthrie, No. 6; Bedard, No. 40; Trachsel, 47) than does the Red Sox's much-celebrated staff (Beckett, No. 31; Schilling, No. 43).
-Boston's starting rotation has a combined 4.10 ERA. The ERA for the O's current starters is 3.79 (note: Boston starters have six more starts than Baltimore's rotation once you take out Orioles starters who are on the disabled list).
What the Birds' starting rotation lacks is wins, largely because of an inept bullpen and a meager lineup. Josh Beckett started the season 9-0 before losing his first game. Jeremy Bonderman (7-0) still has yet to lose. Put either one in Orange and Black and they've probably got four wins a piece at best.
Considered from a different angle, put Jeremy Guthrie on the Red Sox and he's the talk of baseball, a waiver wire pick-up on his way to the All-Star game, a lock for Rookie of the Year. Put Erik Bedard on the Tigers and he's a key piece of the best young rotation in baseball.
Given a strong bullpen and a decent lineup, Mazzone would be a legend. Then again, given a strong bullpen and a decent lineup, Sam Perlozzo would still be the O's manager.
Friday, June 15, 2007
By Matthew Taylor
Because anything's better right now than talking about what's happening on the diamond, here's the Mascot Hall of Fame nomination video for the Oriole Bird. It's fun viewing for longtime Birds fans as it features a lot of Memorial Stadium footage.
The Bird's always there to cheer us up. We need him now more than ever.
See if you can spot the footage from a Baltimore Blast game and a quick shot of Wild Bill Hagy.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Birds owner Peter Angelos receives an interesting mention in the farewell e-mail of Marc Sandalow, the San Francisco Chronicle's departing D.C. Bureau Chief, as reported by Poynter's Jim Romenesko:
"I spoke yesterday with Peter Angelos, the wealthy owner of the Baltimore Orioles, who was an elected official and friend of the Pelosi family. He lamented the cuts going on at the Baltimore Sun, recalling that the paper once assigned a young reporter to every city agency, and that it was the only thing that kept many politicians honest. He fears without the same presence, his city is in for a wave of corruption."
As an O's fan it's hard not to think about Peter Angelos in a narrow, "You destroyed my team" way, so it's refreshing to see that he recognizes the importance of quality, watchdog journalism.
Now we need Angelos to lament the cuts that have happened to the Orioles and remind him that the team needs an independent GM who can keep the owner honest.
The Dodgers axed Eddie Murray as their hitting coach today. If Eddie would start that "Silent Sluggers" blog then we'd know the real backstory on this.
It's always a downer to see something like this happen to an O's favorite. Let the speculation begin about pulling him into the hometown fold.
(note: Chris is surely ashamed of this posting)
The U.S. Army is giving away American Flags at tonight's O's game, but if you ask me the real fun is in Bowie. The Baysox will welcome WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter to the ballpark for their Army night.
Don't think it's a big deal? Check out Slaughter's website for the "Biography of an American Hero."
You've got to love minor league baseball.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
By Matthew Taylor
Curtis Granderson made news this weekend when the following suggestive posting appeared on his MySpace page: "Sorry I was so loud last night. Can’t wait to see you again."
Like too many news stories these days, it was a classic case of much ado about nothing. The female poster was referring to a cell phone conversation, not a romantic tryst. A-Rod he is not.
Nevertheless, the Kansas City Star used the occasion to discuss Major Leaguers who are utilizing the Internet to market themselves and/or communicate outside of the narrow parameters of the MSM sound byte. Curt Schilling's "38 Pitches" of course factored into the conversation, as did Kevin Youkilis's new online effort.
But aside from the Not Quite As Evil Empire, no AL East players are represented in the blogosphere (although Brooks Robinson did some blogging last season). In fact, few players are mixing it up online.
Marinerds counts just 11 MLB bloggers for the 2007 season: Granderson, Schilling, Youkilis, Pat Neshek, CJ Wilson, Nate Robertson, John Lackey, Akinori Otsuka, Geoff Jenkins, John Rodriguez, and J.A. Happ. For some perspective, our site links to 15 other fan blogs about the O's alone.
It's clearly time for the players to pick up the slack, which got me thinking about potential Birds Blogs ...
-"Silent Sluggers - Albert and Eddie." Updated: Never
-"Allow Me to Explain - The Bullpen Musings of Danys Baez."
-"The Hot Seat Hangout." (Sam Perlozzo)
-"More Than Just BBQ." (Boog Powell)
-"Big Before Bonds." (Brady Anderson)
-"Finger Wagging Frankness." (Rafael Palmeiro)
-"Drunk Before Noon ... and After." (Sidney Ponson)
-"No Hablo Ingles, Your Honor." (Sammy Sosa)
-"Jockeying for Position." (Jim Palmer)
-"Here it Comes, and There it Goes." (Scott McGregor)
-"Take My Wife, Please." (Kris Benson)
-"On the Bump with Bump." (Bump Hadley, St. Louis Browns)
Do you have your own ideas for Birds Blogs? Post them in the comments section for this entry.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
By Matthew Taylor
I learned recently that one of my co-workers played a stint in the minor leagues after graduating college. I’m a baseball fan, so the revelation intrigued me. I was fascinated by the idea of a guy chasing his dream long after others had given up theirs. Stats didn’t matter; I just wanted to know the guy's story.
One thousand four hundred and fifty-three young men assumed the role of Moonlight Graham following this week’s MLB Draft. Like my co-worker, they have the chance to pursue their dream a little longer than most. Here’s how the story begins for some of the O’s 2007 draft picks.
Jason White, University of Iowa, has a proud father.
“There weren't too many Orioles hats at the shop in the mall, so my wife told them they better get some more,” Jeff White said. “A local boy getting to play professional baseball. That's pretty special.”
Joe Mahoney, University of Richmond, sees a clear path to the majors.
Mahoney, who is 6-7 and 255 pounds, led Richmond with 17 homers and 62 runs batted in this season. He said he likes his chances for advancement in the Orioles system because “they don’t have a steady first baseman in the majors right now and they don't have any big prospects coming up.”
Matt Angle, (The) Ohio State University, is following in Nick Swisher’s footsteps.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Angle. “It is something that you work for and it has always been a goal of mine. It is a stepping stone. The goal wasn't to just get drafted, but to get drafted, move up through the minor league system and make it to the next level. Ohio State has a great history of players getting drafted and even making it to the next level with players like Nick Swisher. I would also like to thank Coach (Bob) Todd and the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play at OSU and for helping me advance my baseball skills.”
Justin Moore, Chancellor High School, is young, eager, and confident.
“I knew they were going to take me. I wasn’t surprised by that," Moore said. “I just didn’t know what round it would be.”
“It was exciting. I was happy,” Moore said. “Now it all starts.”
“I want to make it to Single-A real quick,” Moore said. “I don’t want to stay in rookie ball that long.”
Eryk McConnell, NC State, simply wants an opportunity.
“It’s just a dream – always something that I wanted to do,” McConnell said. “It’s something that I’ve been striving for since I was little. Now that I have a chance I want to take advantage of it and see where it goes from there.”