strains, heartbreak and redemptiOn

Posted in histOry on December 30th, 2011 by The Wayward O

If 2010 was Year of Luke, it would be hard not to dub 2011 Year of Vlad. Take your pick, neither vintage had smooth, oaky flavor with hints of chocolate, raspberry, a winning record or playoffs.

Alternatively one could argue 2011 was year of Andy MacPhail’s long goodbye.

Or, if you wanted to be an on-field clinician, you could paint 2011 as year of horrible, painful, paralyzing losses to New York Yankees capped by stirring September win that ushered Red Sox nation into oblivion.

You also could characterize 2011 as Year where Team crossed paths with firearms on at least two tragic occasions and, in Luke Scott’s case, in an ongoing occasion of tragic stupidity.

However you’d care to describe it, here’s how it played out:

New Year’s Eve – Derrek Lee signs one-year, $7.25 million deal to play first base. There is excitement in Birdland even though many suspect he can’t hit any more. Signing comes on heels of trades for J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds and things are looking up. Matt Hobgood has a bad shoulder or something, leading to widespread rumblings of draft day ineptitude.

New Year’s Day – Alfredo Simon gets locked up abroad for allegedly shooting his cousin to death. News reports take shots at figuring out truth of situation – suggesting among other things that Simon may have changed out his pistol barrel to pass a ballistics test – but it’s very hard to tell what’s going on.

Jan. 17 – Team does one-year, $3.25 million deal with Adam Jones, essentially punting on whether center fielder is long-term option. News comes as something of surprise since Andy MacPhail had targeted Jones for a more permanent fate by this time. Some tea leaf-readers conclude this means Jones has already intimated to organization he’s going to move on when he can. And, certainly, Jones has never even come close to saying anything like “I want to be an Oriole for life.” Adam’s play and power numbers improve in 2011, meaning long-term deal for eventual suitor is getting pricier.

Jan. 27 – Vlad rumors reach fever pitch. Felix Pie’s fate is tortioning in wind, so to speak, since he’s widely seen as odd-man-out on roster.

Feb. 1 – Simon denied bail in Dominican shooting case. Baltimore Sun says court development “virtually guarantees that the 29-year-old right-hander will not be in Sarasota, Fla., when Orioles’ pitchers and catchers are expected to report Feb. 14.” Don’t take your guns to town, son.

Feb. 4 – Vlad Guerrero signs $8 million, one-year deal with Team. Many are excited. Some are wary. As year progresses the wary become bold and then become angry – and apparently still are very angry with much lingering anger – over this signing. Vlad is coming off a .300 BA, 29 HR season in Texas. He’s seen by Team as short-term solution for black hole in DH spot and, possibly, a leader by example in clubhouse. “He is not a part of the Orioles’ long-term plans,” Sun notes.

Feb. 10 – Legendary Team clubhouse guy and umpire guy Ernie Tyler dies at age of 86. “The Tyler family is synonymous with Orioles baseball,” says Cal Ripken Jr. Which, if you think about it just a little too hard, isn’t a very nice thing to say at this point.

Feb. 14 – Some get roses. Others get chocolates. Fans of Team get pitchers and catchers. Also on this day baseball world is hit with big news from St. Louis when Albert Pujols slams door on future with Cardinals, rejecting their 10-year contract offer. Tony La Russa calls development a “spectacular distraction” and then, um, wins World Series alongside Pu, who then departs for Oranger climes.

Feb. 16 – Fans of Team get excited when Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec tweets Mark Reynolds “was peppering the parking lot with balls during batting practice.”

Feb. 17 – Crazy ol Mike Gonzalez, he of 2010 Opening Day meltdown and DL stints, says he’s going to let his pitches do talking. In retrospect, that’s pretty much what he did. He wasn’t great, but he had some bright moments in 2011 and he stayed out of hot seat for most part before being shipped outta town. Blog of Team surmises anger over Vlad deal wouldn’t be so acute were it not coupled with other contracts such as those given to Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg.

Feb. 18 – Pickin’ machines

Feb. 19 – Vlad tells Buck he’s gonna hit fourth. Buck agrees. Derrek Lee has a bad thumb or something.

Feb. 23 – Brian Roberts leaves camp amid reports of stiff neck. Fan base groans. Tweets @ B-Rob ensue as fans offer any and all remedies they can muster.

Feb. 25 – Civil lawsuit in Dominican Republic against Alfredo Simon dropped. Simon remains in jail on criminal charges.

Feb. 27 – Reports surface that J.J. Hardy is best ping pong player on Team. In months to come reports will surface he is best baseball player on Team too.

March 1 – Peter Angelos says Andy MacPhail will get contract extension. Andy says Humdee humdeee hum, which means nobody really said nothing. Because, in reality, Andy’s done with this horsesh*t. Team pounds out five-home run barrage in Sarasota opener, beating Rays by 12-6. It’s nice to hear Joe and Fred’s voices.


Love me some Ed Smith

March 6 – Sun reports Natty Boh will be available on tap at Camden. Excitement for 2011 hits new high. “Emergency shipments” of hundreds of kegs already on move.

March 8 – Bee effing Rob with his dumb headfirst slides into first base – during Grapefruit games no less! Ugh.

March 15 – Alleged left fielder Luke Scott isn’t getting any time in, um, left field. Also around this time close-listening fans start noticing bizarre kazoo, flute and other elevator music solos during WBAL spring training broadcasts. Also they notice weird computer voice talking about conference calls. It is source of great mirth and assumption is it’s practical joke being played by Joe Angel and Casey Willet.

March 22 – Zach Britton touches 96 mph (154 kph) on Ed Smith radar gun. Let’s talk about Zach for a quick second: Zach Britton rules.

March 24 – Great Baltimore draft hope Manny Machado gets into Grapefruit League game. Sometime around this time Blog of Team predicts Team won’t finish last and Yankees won’t finish in first. Wrong on both counts.

March 31 – Amber moves from field to booth. She’s a big deal now. She gets to chill with Rick Dempsey. Also, Amber will rock a blog post. Don’t even worry about it. What’s going on with those nutty Orioles? Amber gonna tell you.

April 1 – Jeremy Guthrie pitches eight innings and Team beats Tampa Bay and its ace David Price at unusual opener away from Camden.

April 2 – Brian Matusz heads for the 15-day DL after struggling with strained  intercostal muscle. Nicky makes second-best Team catch of season.

April 4 – Blog of Team’s Blingie output plummeted in 2011 but them that were produced showed a transcendent mastery. And that can’t really be debated.


Meetin’ up

This one was inspired by Buck’s handshake with Earl Weaver at home opener, in which Jake Arrieta pitched six strong in a 5-1 over visiting Detroit. There were a couple other good ones to boot.

April 6 – Since you followed Jeremy Guthrie on Twitter, you might also want to follow Ryan Seacrest.


Trending

As 2011 winds along, Jeremy becomes one of MLB’s best tweeters. Pretty good pitcher too.

April 9 – What’s this? Team is 6 and 1 against three eventual playoff teams? Is this the dawn of Adam, Matt, Nick and Brian that fans of Team have so long dreamed of? Is Zach Britton, who runs record to 2-0 this day with 7+ inning shutout game that also features Markakis and Reynolds home runs, the spark that ignites fire under long-suffering Team?

April 14 – In one of many painful losses to Yankees, Wayward O attends $5 seat night game in Bronx and watches Team unravel, 6-5 in 10th inning. If memory serves, this is game where Russel Martin “tagged” pinch runner Felix Pie, hard, in face as Team failed to plate potential winning run in top of tenth inning. Jorge Posada smacks game tying home run off Gregg in ninth. That one hurt.

April 18 – Team had taken a 6-1 record up to Bronx, but it lost two there to Yankees and by this date Team has dropped eight straight. It was almost as if Yankees poisoned Team with smallpox-infused blankets or something.

April 24 – Soul-crushing losses to Yankees are piling up. They would continue to pile up. When they’re not losing to Yankees, games are being postponed or delayed due to rain (there were at least three such postponements in 2011.)

May 4 – Luke Scott shoots off his mouth, questioning President Obama’s citizenship again and telling Kansas City Star that Obama “does not represent America.” But it was just sort of a waning aftershudder of Luke’s 2010 performances, which were well-chronicled, and appears to mark beginning of end for Luke — at least in Baltimore. Team goes on four-game losing streak immediately after Luke’s comments, getting blown out in each game.

May 11 – J.J. Hardy returns from disabled list after what seemed like interminable wait. On May 15, J.J.’s big year would start to take shape with shortstop hitting grand slam in win over Rays.

May 16 – Horseshit umpiring costs Team game in Boston. B-Rob’s latest headfirst slide triggers concussion symptons and by May 24 Team’s second baseman is back to indefinite state of disabled-ness. Going into this game Matt Wieters has thrown out 12 of 22 base runners on season and MLB is taking notice.

May 21 – Alfredo Simon is back with Team in game against Nats after nearly five months. But he’s not out of woods yet, as he still faces criminal charges and a trial.

May 22 – Vlad’s clutch two-run homer off of fancy young left-hander Jordan Zimmermann sinks Nats. Kevin Gregg earns eighth save after Chris Tillman and Jim Johnson keep Team in ballgame. Matty Wieters throws out pinch runner Brian Bixler on a strike ’em, throw ’em to end game. Power, pitching and defense. This game was kind of a microcosm of what Team was hoping to see on regular basis during 2011. Team stands at 21-24 and hope still remains.

May 26 – Team runs record back to .500 as Vlad’s run-scoring single caps home sweep of Kansas City in extras. It would be last day Team would see .500 in 2011.

June 1 – In grip of nasty, five-game West Coast losin’ streak, Nicky gets start at first base and Team wins on Jonesie home run. Jonesie also makes ridiculous catch that draws immediate comparisons to Willie Mays.


Image via KIRO

June 7 – Team picks RHP Dylan Bundy fourth overall in draft.

June 10 – Jake Fox, he of 10 Grapefruit League home runs, clears waivers and is sent to Norfolk.

June 11 – Mark Reynolds goes deep twice in loss to Rays. Sometime around this time Jim Palmer starts referring to Reynold’s home runs as “helium balls.”

June 14 – Mark Connor quits job as Team’s pitching coach, gets in car and splits, never to be heard from again. Only later did fans learn from Brian Matusz of lingering tensions with Connor over style, substance, etc.

June 19 – Joining Chris Jakubauskas in starting lineup against Nats are Craig Tatum, Derrek Lee and Felix Pie, none of whom are still part of Team. To put it another way, as of mid-season, Team on field is 40 percent meat. Makes for some hard sloggin’ for fans who tune in regular.

June 25 – Hardy, Jones, Markakis and Wieters all homer in losing effort. Blog of Team and Nicky both perplexed and slightly miffed by Camden Yards wave.

July 15 – Team loses ninth in row with 6-5 loss against visiting Cleveland. Team would lose 20 games in July.

July 30 – Team loses 3-17 on road to Yankees, who score 12 runs in first inning, as Pinstriped nemesis goes on to sweep doubleheader. Blogosphere makes obligatory football score comparison jokes.

Also Team trades a fan favorite, the home run-prone Koji Uehara, to Rangers for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. Both imports appear to inject a little bit of energy into Team in apparently hopeless straits. And both arguably could figure prominently into Team’s future. Trade appears to be a decent one, given circumstances.

July 31 – Team flips Derrek Lee to Pittsburgh for a minor league first baseman. Lee says Camden Yards is a nice ballpark, proceeds to help send Pirates into tailspin. Actually maybe said tailspin wasn’t Lee’s fault. Nothing’s Lee’s fault, really, because Lee is a non-factor.

Aug. 4 – Team legend Doug DeCinces settles insider trading allegations brought by Securities and Exchange Commission, agreeing to pay $2.5 million after taking $1.7 million in allegedly illegal profits from trades in Abbott Labs.

Aug. 7 – Jones reaches his offensive output totals from 2010 about seven weeks early.

Aug. 9 – Team gets screwed on call as Nicky gets punched trying to steal third base in close loss to White Sox. Every August there’s one game where year’s worth of frustrations boils over [see: Aug. 20, 2010] and this one is it. Buck gets heave-ho and tensions with Ozzie go up a notch. It’s too bad Ozzie left AL because Buck-Ozzie dynamic was starting to get interesting.

Aug. 11 – Nicky hits career home run No. 100. Everybody complains about Nick’s power numbers, wishes Nicky were more like Ryan Braun. You know, bigger. His physique is so — NORMAL looking. Weird.

Aug. 16 – Brian Matusz returns to majors (again) and gets absolutely pasted (again).

Aug. 20 – One five-game losing streak on West Coast per year is not enough for Team. Kevin Gregg melts down against Angels, hitting batters and otherwise failing, and lets in three runs in bottom of 12th after Team scored 2 in top of frame. This was fourth loss in five-game streak.

Aug. 23 – Felix Pie experiment ends in Baltzmore. Soon Andy MacPhail experiment, which brought Felix Pie experiment to city, would end as well.

Aug. 24 – Mike Flanagan takes his own life. It’s a shame it ended that way, sir. In a memorable on-air eulogy, Jim Palmer says Flanagan “was one of a kind.”


Image via MASN

“He was funny, he was smart, he was tough,” Palmer said. If there’s a single lasting image from 2011, it’s this one. Team and organization close ranks around Flanny and reports of, alternatively, depression and money woes contain sparse details. Suicide note, however, mentioned financial issues, according to police.

Also waxing surprisingly eloquent in tragedy’s aftermath was Nick, who said “we feel for the Flanagan family and the organization and everybody that knew him. But some things happen in life that you don’t know why.” These and other comments continue to prove, incidentally, that Nick is defacto captain of Team, his long periods of quiet notwithstanding.

Aug. 27 – In immediate wake of Flanny tragedy, Yankee manager Joe Girardi make a major fuss about not getting to play a makeup double header on Aug. 26. Not only was Flanagan suicide news still very raw but Team had just returned from a West Coast marathon. Bad style, Girardi.

Aug. 28 – In first game of doubleheader Girardi had wanted to play two days before, Team beats Yankees 2-0 behind seven scoreless Zach Britton innings. It’s Team’s sixth consecutive win and puts fears of 100-loss year into remission. Gregg lucks out by getting A-Rod to smash into around-the-horn double play that very easily could have gone as game-tying double. But it looks like tailor-made double play ball in box score.

Aug. 30 – USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that “MacPhail, according to two high-ranking Orioles officials, plans to leave the organization after his contract expires Oct. 31.” For some reason, however, local news coverage of Team can’t seem to grasp this and speculation goes on apace.

Aug. 31 – Team trades Michael Gonzalez, his remaining contract and his baggage to Texas for essentially nothing.

Sept. 6 – Stephen Strasburg takes mound in DC. Big night for Team’s sort of cross-town, interleague rival.

Sept. 8 – Vlad goes yard and Team beats Yankees 5-4 in extras. Yankees win season series 13-5. But those five wins were sweet. Let’s get more than five against them next year, guys. Nicky knocks daylights outta Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli.

Sept. 19 – After a year of meltdowns, Joe Angel says “it’s official, Kevin Gregg has lost his job” to Jim Johnson.

Sept. 21 – Mark Reynolds hits home run Nos. 35 and 36 including this monster


Image via MASN

in win over Red Sox at Fenway. “Another crushing loss to a Red Sox team fighting for its season,” Sun paper says.

Sept. 22 – Derek Jeter tells New York Daily News that Tony Tarasco “should have jumped.” Douchiest comment of young decade probably.

Sept. 25 – Balt. Sun goes paywall. Bloggers piss and moan. Also, Brian Matusz: the Final Insult: Lefty gives up six runs in five innings to cap a 1-9 season with a 10+ ERA. Buck hedges on Brian’s future with Team but makes it clear Brian will have clear shot to make rotation in Spring 2012.

Sept. 28 – What a night! Team comes back from 3-2 down to hand Boston Red Sox and seriously-hard-to-like closer Jonathan Papelbon their final humiliation of 2011 by knocking them out of playoff picture. Take a seat, Red Sox!


Image via MASN

Win is final straw that triggers crazy re-org up in Boston, amid reports of beer, video game and fried chicken abuse. Benefits of said shakeup are not immediately obvious. As of this writing Bobby Valentine is Boston’s manager. But, Blog surmises, there is non-zero chance he could actually be fired before spring, given tensions in Beantown.

Vlad finishes game 0-4 and grounds into double play, icing cake for his many haters by turning in a .290 BA, 13 HR year that featured probably a dozen glaring miscues on basepaths.


Image via MASN

Vlad’s year featured some hints of Great Player that Was, but overall production coupled with apparent inability to capably run bases, was disappointing. However, at time of signing, this could not have  been known — and in retrospect it’s hard to tell whether Vlad took any of 2011 very seriously.

Also, going back to Sept. 13, Team finishes year on 11-5 tear. One thing we know for sure: Team can win when pressure is off.

Final win of season goes to Jim Johnson, who has quietly become, perhaps, Team’s most valuable pitching asset behind Zach Britton.

October – For 14th straight season, October dawns uneventful in Baltimore, at least insofar as professional baseball is concerned. Bank of America runs a high-profile ad campaign during playoffs that features voice of Joe Angel.

In mid-October Team fires third base coach Willie Randolph, who Buck didn’t want around in first place, really. Willie leaves with characteristic class.

Andy MacPhail leaves.

Nov. 1 – Nick wins Gold Glove after errorless season and Matt wins at catcher after throwing out 34 would be base-stealers. Nice haul for a team that often gets overlooked. (Buck’s influence on sports media guys, perhaps?)

Nov. 4 – Dippin’ Dots files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Too many dips, not enough dots.

Nov. 6 – After a bizarre and long search, Team hires Dan Duquette, who had been residing in baseball’s “where are they now” file, to become new top executive. Double-D vows to build a “contender” in Crabtown.

Nov. 8 – With no witness able to testify against him and inconclusive ballistics tests yielding no smoking gun, Alfredo Simon is acquitted of manslaughter in Santo Domingo, ending a nearly yearlong legal nightmare for pistol-packing right-hander.

Nov. 19 – Team picks up Matt Antonelli. Not a good sign if you’re reading Brian Roberts tea leaves. Matt, who is a competent blogger, plays second base and third base. MLB announces major changes to playoffs (they’re expanding) and to NL Central (its contracting) that will come into effect after 2012.

Dec. 1 – Team makes big fuss out of expansion … of picnic area. Also, cartoon bird is returning to hats.

Dec. 4 – Duquette hires former Phillies general manager Lee Thomas and veteran scout Fred Ferreira, tasking them with bettering Team’s international scouting efforts. Ten days later came reports that Team would re-focus domestic scouting efforts on finding amateur talent and plans to rely on technology to assess talent already in MLB.

Roch writes “New scouting director Gary Rajsich is going to want to build his own staff, so you can expect more changes to come after next season.”

Dec. 12 – Luke Scott era in Baltimore appears close to coming to close when Team refuses to offer him a contract. Team leaves door open to cheaper, renegotiated free agent deal. As of this writing no word from Luke Scott who appears to be in Venezuela spreading holy word or something.

Dec. 13 – Team signs Japanese lefty Tsuyoshi Wada. “I very look forward to pitch,” says Wada, struggling with his English a little but not with his obvious charisma. Wada will be fun to watch, Blog is quite sure of it.

Dec. 20 – Signing of now-journeyman outfielder Endy Chavez triggers intense speculation about Team’s desire to trade away Adam Jones and build depth in young talent department.

Dec. 30 – Things are quiet as light snow dusts counties that make up Birdland. One or two ill-sourced Prince Fielder rumors are all that’s doing as 2011 winds to its close. But you get sense that, behind scenes, major shakeup goes on inside sad confines of Warehouse as losing seasons pile up.


Con pasión, Senor Mora

Also, Oriole great Melvin Mora retires after playing out his twilight out West. His exploits in Baltimore will not be forgotten any time soon.

Did Blog of Team miss any key moments? Fire away in comments …

last cOuple weeks

Posted in histOry on November 20th, 2011 by The Wayward O

So many things happening! Blog of Team was busy last couple weeks with failed lobbying effort to have Memlo be part of bronze statue menagerie. Almost pulled it off except that d*mned Brooks R. Such a spotlight thief!

Oh and also everybody got all tut-tutty and judgmental with Venezuela right as Blog unleashed fourteen-slide, bunt-heavy power point Memmlemo polemic at Sheraton. Bad timing.

Team has been busy, and not just on erecting statues front, having also brought back cartoon bird for front of hats.


Image via Sun

Though, for Blog’s money, switch back to “Baltimore” on road unis a year or two back was more earth-shattering (if anything Team has done over last five years or so can be compared with planet-altering events). And now that “Baltimore” lettering has been — how’d the Sun put it? — “flattened slightly and [rendered] consistent instead of tapered,” Wayward O apparently owns very potentially rare valuable … eh nevermind.

This really is Best Time of Year to be Orioles fan. We can argue about whether Team should hire talented baseball players [“Yes, we’ll get better and be less boring.”    “No we’re three years from competing and will be for next six years.”] and it’s all abstracted by lack of games in which Baltimore team featuring lots of homegrown talent, a few random guys and ZERO free agent talent tends to lose.

(Guess missing part? Dunno … can’t suss it out. Too busy overthinking.)

And abstraction doubly welcome at moment since Team’s new generally managing guy, Dan Duquette, already indicated he can’t sign free-agent pitchers to deals exceeding three years. This means, Blog supposes, that Team will muddle through at least another year without signing a rotation-anchoring starter.

It also means, Blog induces, that big bats won’t come here either since now everyone knows big arms aren’t coming. But, hey, that’s just “analysis.” Nobody really knows that for fact.

Duquette, who now refers to Team as “my team” (something Andy MacPhail certainly never did) also recently was quoted as saying Team’s payroll largely will remain at roughly same level.

Looks like Duquette will try to do it with smoke and mirrors (and trades?) and blogosphere already is cranking up trade Markakis hype machine, suggesting Nicky might fetch a young arm from Atlanta or something because Duquette may or may not like “his” right fielder’s drop-off in home runs.

Trading away Markakis just to keep treading water sounds dumb to Blog. But, hey, what does Blog know?

Oh Blog actually does know something: In order to win, Major League Baseball teams have to sign exciting, talented free-agent ball players to compete. They have to sign players who are proven producers and hope they continue to produce. That costs money. And if one free agent doesn’t work out, it’s not an excuse to cry about it and never sign another player again.

Most importantly, however, Blog has like three fresh observations about Duquette. First his last name is a fantastic fake Scrabble word, and second, dude seriously needs to reconsider his flying lettuce look at top of what best can be described as a forehead so big that a bedouin nomad could get lost on it and die of thirst.


Chop that Buckwheat, Dan, please!

Also Duquette seems to have permanent five o’clock stubble. And he’s probably a sweater, too.

Blog isn’t too immediately impressed with Duquette and pretty much thinks when Buck says “jump,” Dan better say “how high?” Prove Blog wrong, Dan. Do it! After all, it’s “your team.”

But enough about boring old Team. Many things going on around Big Leagues as well!

Perhaps most important baseball finally has appeared to resolve ridiculous situation in which AL West has four teams and NL Central has six teams.

But decision to move Houston Astros to AL West appears to have come with saddening, concomitant expansion of MLB Playoffs that will see ten teams in October scrum.

It will be fun in terms of bracketology, Blog supposes, and chase for postseason spots will yield plenty of drama. But fact is, drama will be focused on who baseball’s tenth-best regular season team is.

Dead, buried and soon to be forgotten is  baseball’s traditional system, which rewarded quality over long haul. Once upon time, Team benefited heavily from old system.

New, expanded system essentially supercharges element of playoff randomness and — except for, you know, the MONEY thing — does away with need for 162-game regular season.

And yet change probably was inevitable: as Washington Post pointed out, changes are  MLB’s

first realignment in 13 years and its first playoff expansion in 16

Commissioner Bud Selig is right that this will drive more money into baseball’s coffers and, if crazy end to 2011 season is any indicator, will see baseball’s “pennant races,” if we can still call them that, remain in headlines despite advent of football every fall.

But, as it enters new era of playoff uncertainty, baseball likely will never see dynastic teams of yore again. There’s too much randomness now for dynasties, unless they appear by dint of complete luck.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Certainly it will cut down on Yankees’ ability to keep adding to number of World Series titles in bunches.

single seasOn average

Posted in histOry on July 25th, 2011 by The Wayward O

We’re all used to more than a little half-bakery from Team of Blog.

Kent Mercker? Garrett Atkins? Blog could go on. And Blog thinks it’s pretty clear that Blog isn’t out to bash Team. Team-Bashing is such an uninspiring pastime.

But yesterday, during bottom of fifth inning of nasty little game in which home plate wanabe Major League Umpire Todd Tichenor treated Jeremy Guthrie like red-headed stepchild and Team, you know, lost again, television play-by-play man Jim Hunter busted with daily trivia fact and, well, even Moribund Blog of Team, which barely even blogs anymore, got emails about it…

So Blog went back and checked. Sure enough:

Hunter: “Time here for our AT&T Mobility trivia fact. No Oriole has ever hit .400 in a single season. Hard feat to do. Melvin Mora, who hit .340 in 2004, holds the single season average [record] for the Orioles.”

Color man Mike Flanagan then muses about how Roberto Alomar, recently inducted into Hall of Fame with Blue Jays cap on, was “flirting with .400” in late May into June of 1996, his first year with Team.

During which Fancy MASN busted with the fancy graphics, even:


Image via MASN


Image via MASN

It’s a hard feat to do, to be sure, but not impossible, as shortstop Hughie Jennings proved in 1896, hitting .401 for year and as right fielder Willie Keeler proved in 1897, hitting .424.

Jennings played in 130 games during his .400 year with 521 at-bats and Keeler played in 129 games during his year with 564 at-bats.

Like Nick Markakis, Keeler typically batted in the two slot.

So — at least two Orioles have hit .400 for a full season. And, at risk of rubbing it in, your AT&T Mobility facts were not, in fact, facts.

Now it’s entirely true that those “Old Orioles” were in National League. But there was no caveat and Hunter’s statement was quite clear. No Oriole had ever done it.

Speaking of which, if you’ve never read Robert W. Creamer’s essay called “The Old Orioles.”

“The Old Oriole mystique faded away, to disappear almost completely in the 1950s when Baltimore returned to the Major Leagues after half a century of exile in the minors. The new Orioles effectively erased the memory of the Old ones,” he writes.

Indeed.

You could almost forgive ’em for “forgetting” except that both are HoF’ers and Keeler coined one of Game’s most famous phrases: “Hit ’em where they ain’t.” And Jennings’ nickname, Ee-Yah, is Best Ever, if not most famous.

Well we have our Team. We have our MASN. They are one and same. We have our control over televised Nationals broadcasts. And we have our Mr. Peter Angelos, who clearly loses zero sleep when Team loses.

And we have our losses. Tell you what: Somebody inside organization really ought really to read Creamer’s essay. It’s about a bad Team that found a way.

mOtive isn’t everything

Posted in histOry on April 29th, 2011 by The Wayward O

With recent tail-between-legs quit of Manny Ramirez from Game as result of inability to adhere to league’s newish substance policies, baseball’s Steroid Era finally has begun to wind into Post-Steroid Era.

Over many years Blog of Team has had many discussions with many fans who have many different takes on steroids and other performance-aiding drugs.

Some fans just don’t care that much, discounting notion that they help players play better.

Others accept as fact that steroids give players competitive advantage but suggest steroid use is less of sin than others that in past have given Game its blackest of eyes.

Still others believe that steroid use confers huge unfair advantage to players who use them and believe in retribution against players who use them, regardless of whether they ever “come clean,” up to and including denial of Hall of Fame eligibility.

Blog believes current players who have been forthcoming about their steroid use deserve benefit of doubt from fans and league that they won’t use them going forward.

Reason for this is because during height of abuses many players were pressured by coaches and others to use them and may have concluded that their shot at solid Major League career depended on it. This climate of abuse doesn’t make them innocent, but must be acknowledged.

That said, Blog dearly hopes baseball’s testing policy remains robust going forward.

Players who flouted their obvious use of steroids, lied about it, made up excuses for it or otherwise failed to admit their transgressions, Blog believes, deserve legal and popular scrutiny. Blog is thinking of Ramirez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro for four examples.

Blog understands to limited degree notion that “cheating to win is better than cheating to lose” and that steroid users who seek or sought to improve their on-field performance probably would inhabit a lesser circle of offense than, say, those Chicago players who threw World Series for money way back when or — possibly — Pete Rose, who it’s said would play in games after betting against his Reds.

But problems with this line of thinking as view toward forgiving steroid users, whether repentant or not, are twofold:

First, like any business, any and all cheating undermines business integrity. Baseball, above all else, needs to protect implicit notion that people paying for product can trust product’s integrity.

Second, regardless of whether steroid use confers unfair advantage, it’s likely that people willing to “cheat to win” also would more likely be willing to “cheat to lose.”

To put it another way: Motive isn’t everything, especially if said cheaters are in fact gaining unfair advantage. If you have unfair advantage there’s little or nothing to stop you from undermining integrity of game in ways that benefit you on any given day.

wayward wayback team timeshack and lukelOg

Posted in histOry on December 28th, 2010 by The Wayward O

Welcome to Blog of Team’s annual recap of Team’s hideous exploits. Blogs and fans of Team who stuck with Team in 2010 deserve combat pay.

Amid seemingly endless, mind-numbing losing, there was a changing of guard, a cleaning of house and a new attitude that led Team to productive August and September. Since, Team has done some redecorating in infield, moves that give this Blog hope and others indigestion. More importantly, perhaps, Team completely purged coaching ranks in an unmistakable sign it’s trying to “change the culture,” to use an oft-repeated phrase.

2010 was also, in many ways, Year of Luke Scott. Luke’s bombastic bat almost matched his big mouth as fans tried in vain to love him despite his penchant for giving footrubs to Orly Taitz and firing all his guns at once and exploding into space or whatever.

Resist the urge to be a douche, Luke!

Anyway, without further preamble, please enjoy The Year that Was!

Jan. 5: Amid record Baltimore snowfalls, deposed longtime third-baseman and Fan Favorite Melvin Mora sorts way through stack of job offers.

Jan. 6: Randy Johnson announces retirement. Blog of Team tips cap.

Jan. 11: San Francisco Giants sign Aubrey Huff for $3 million in what time would reveal to be best offseason bargain bar none.

Jan. 20: “Monstruo de Cuadrangular” and future Most Valuable Oriole Luke Scott signs $4 million deal with Team, skipping all that arbitration mess. Also around this time hopeful Blog of Team pathetically tries to hype very weak Adrian Gonzalez trade rumors.

Jan. 23: Miguel Tejada returns to Team, signing one-year, $6 million contract. It’s cold out. Fans dreamily roll over and make up scenarios in which this isn’t terrible idea. Blog of Team is first to pencil Tejada in for cleanup. People freak. Tejada hits in four-hole opening day.

Jan. 29: Nestor Apparicio fires himself from own radio station, saying of Team “They’re bad people. They do bad things. I don’t believe it will ever get fixed.” Then radio station spends whole of 2010 whining because Team won’t grant it interviews. Nestor does not keep promise to stop talking. Still though, Blog finds WNST to be decent sports yak alternative and tunes in often via Internet.

Feb. 1: Memlo does deal with Colorado Rockies! Good onya, brother. Rockies proceed to underperform, miss playoffs.

February: Evil Google throws thousands of Blogs for loop when it announces end of FTP-based publishing. Blog of Team fires Google, sort of, but not really. Blog definitely gets mad.

Feb. 20: Manager Dave Trembley tells Baltimore Sun that new additions Kevin Millwood and Mike Gonzalez will help Team compete and also will mentor young kids. Blog of Team stupidly gets pretty excited about Major Mike…

“You can help the young guys, you can lead the way and I know you want the ball,” Dave says, kicking off Year of Ugh.

Feb. 23: Blog of Team eats lunch in Yurt. Has no idea what happened in Blatzmo.

Feb. 26: Around this time rumors on Internets start to swirl about Nolan Reimold’s personal issues. Blog withholding links out of sense of decency. But, you think Roch gets a lot of crazy commenters?

Feb. 27: Luke Scott, reacting to Gilbert Arenas debacle in Washington and Plaxico Burress self-inflicted gunshot wound in New York, sounds off on MLB’s clubhouse gun ban. Luke admits policy is correct one but tells Sun:

“Barring a tactical entry where terrorists come in and hold us hostage, that’s about the only thing that could possibly warrant me carrying a gun in the clubhouse. That’s highly unlikely, and I admit that. But my personal belief is I don’t want to suffer from the poor choices of others.”

People kind of move away from Luke on proverbial Group W bench. Luke was only just getting started — both in terms of hitting and ranting.

March 3: Bloggers note ferocity of early 2010 schedule. Blog of Team allows that “early promise could be over quickly: Team has 10-game road trip during second half of April in Oakland, Seattle and Boston. Then Team caps month hosting Champs for 4-game set.” Sigh. In retrospect, only thing wrong was use of word “promise.”

March 10: RIP, Willie “3-Dog” Davis.

March 14: Team hits halfway point in Spring training. B-Rob sidelined. Reimold stinks. Wieters can’t get hit to save life. Kevin Millwood ERA is galactic and Major Mike injury rumblings grow louder. “Perception collides with reality,” writes Pete Schmuck. Couple bright spots? Luuuuke looks less lost at plate; Ty playing decent in field.

March 26: Brian Bob takes first spring hacks. Ugh. So many ughs…

March 28: Blog of Team chills with Team broadcast luminary Joe Angel.

That what Blog of Team is talking about!

April 2: RIP, Mike Cuellar.

April 9: Team drops 2 out of first 3 in Tampa, Trembley rips Trop. Then Team comes home and Mike Gonzalez blows (another) 9th inning lead and more or less gets booed out of Camden Yards. Forgive Blog’s French – Fuckin’ ugly. Maybe ugliest Opening Day ever in Balto.

April 11: BLOGGER DAY. Os Bloggers, in face of endless futility, display passion and knowledge that deserves recognition for serious.

April 13: San Francisco Giants move to 6-1; Aubrey Huff has jokes.

April 17: The Orioles are 1-11. Blog of Team posts depth chart:

Tee hee hee. Blog funny

April 18: Brian Matusz collects his (and Team’s) second win on season as Ty Wigglebacher shows All-Star form with bat. Trembley is not stupid man but he keeps good face on. Still, though, he’s prone to bouts of saltiness. “We’ve been facing Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale since the start of the season, they’ve been reincarnated every time we play,” he says. Also, remember this shitshow? Too depressing to even write about. Maybe it was just media hype. Blog has uttered two cusswords and it’s only April.

April 24: In one of most putrid displays in recent memory, Team runs record to 2-16. In this game Team had 3-run lead, but blew it, then came up short with a 7-6 loss in Boston. It’s just not there. Nothing is there. Friedrich Nietzsche couldn’t fix Team, let alone Dave Trembley. Adam Jones says offense coming to life. He’s hitting .215. Reimold hitting .159. Whatever, “batting average doesn’t matter.”

April 25: Paroxysms of “Fire Trembley” come to head in Media as Blog of Team, one or two others, continue to support him. Diamond Dave’s supporters are fewer and far-er between than Himalayan Snow Leopards. But, like our feline brethren, we’re fierce and proud and we ate a bunny rabbit. On inside, even dumb Blog knows T. has kind of got to go. Blog pens RIME of the SCAPEGOAT MANAGER. Blog hates to pat Blog on back but c’mon – that was awesome.

May: Blog fires Gross Nasty Google, relaunches in Cool WorldPress. Google jellus. Tip of cap to Z.K. at C.C. for advice and counsel on that tip.

May 2: Team sweeps Boston? Matt Albers gets two of three Ws in series?? No wonder Albers is on Red Sox now. Hahah Red Sox, you’ll learn. Sweep-clinching win was dramatic, 10-inning affair. It sends message to league that Boston (and Jonathan Papelbon) are quite beatable.

May 12: Reimold, hitting circa .200, booted to AAA to sort out biznass.

May 19: Garrett Atkins, hitting .221, goes 0 for 3 with a GIDP in 4-3 loss at Texas. Hoots n hisses.

May 22: Blog sponsors Rex Barney’s Baseball Reference page. World jealous.

May 30: BLOG GETS MARRIED!!! YAY!!!

May 31: Team has 15 wins going into June.

June 2: Armando Gallaraga perfecto botched by Ump.

June 3: Millwood “runs” record to 0-6 with loss in Bronx that was quite over by third inning thank you very much. Kevin had some decent starts, too, it should be noted. But results rarely changed.

June 4: Dave Trembley is fired after six straight losses in latest road trip debacle. He’s replaced by third base coach Juan Samuel. Neither Dave nor interim Juan is with Team anymore as of this writing. Team did make one bit of history in 2010, with three skippers each at the helm for more than 50 games. You could look it up. Don’t bother.

June 8: Amazing, scintillating debut of Stephen Strasburg. Baseball stops to take notice. Nats proceed to ride him like that horse in “True Grit” until he blows out elbow.

June 9: Dumb Bobby Valentine rumors swirl. Blog pushes for hire. But Bob is too busy yapping his way out of jobs to actually show he is “right fit” for Team. Turns out patient Team was wary of Bobby V., and rightly so, and avoided what probably would have been a disastrous hire. Good work, Mr. Andy Mac.

June 10: Six IPs, three ERs for Jake Arrieta in Major League debut win over Yankees and A.J. Burnett. Fantastic. Also David Hernandez gets first career save.

June 14: Around this time, Blog believes, Garrett Atkins gets benched, hitting .214. It wasn’t a motivational benching. It was a plain old “you suck” benching.

June 16: In rubber match, Aubrey Huff takes Jeremy Guthrie into McCovey Cove to help “Seal” series win for Giants. It’s been pointed out ad nauseum, but for posterity’s sake: Aub. is hitting .305 and helping carry Gints (sure, in a somewhat weak division) for $3 million while Garrett Atkins, getting $4.5 million, is circling toilet bowl.

June 17: Nicky comes as close to questioning Team’s heart as he may ever. “You still have to be professional and go out and play every day […] I don’t know what the hell is going on around here.”

June 24: Nicky and Peter G. Angelos meet for dinner in Balto. Unclear what was said but word is Nicky has some things to say about future of Team. They both say nice things afterward. Baltimore Sun notes that “It is believed that Angelos had not met with a player since May 2006, when he discussed a contract extension with then-third baseman Melvin Mora.” Year about half over. Depressed yet?

June 27: Team sweeps Nats. Washington hurler calls sweep “devastating.” Fans of Team revel in being on other end of stick for once. Garrett Atkins DFA’d. Koji comes back from latest DL stint. Faint, fluttery signs of pulse.

July 1: Josh Bell makes MLB debut, gets hit.

July 10: Chris Tillman takes no-no into 7th at Texas, outduels Cliff Lee in 6-1 Team win.

July 11: BlogOsphere erupts into conflagration over whether Os should tank games for draft picks or play to win. Obviously play to win is answer and anyone who argues different is an ass.

July 13: National League gets off losin’ streak at All Star Game as stars continue to align for S.F. Giants.

July 22: Ty Wigglebacher flips or something. Can’t remember. Doesn’t matter. Jobbed on a close play?

Actually Blog does remember. Ty put sweep tag on J.J. Hardy at 1st base but Blue called him safe and Ty freakin’ lost it. There was an Ump Bump. Now J.J. is on Team and TyTy is on Rockies. Ain’t it funny how da Woim Toins? For record, interim skipper also Freaked, executed pretty sweet frisbee throw with ballcap.

July 29: The Buck Sh_walter era begins in Baltimore! Sort of. Hiring is announced but Juan to coach until Aug. 2. Miggy leaves team for 2nd time, this time bound for San Diego.

Aug. 1: Buck talks of squirrels, nuggets and pile-jumpers. Nobody is really sure what he means but it seems to make sense.

Aug. 8: Former Team ‘Roid Balloon Jay Gibbons ends season of penitence, comes up on Dodgers big club looking fit and less puffed up. Meantime Balto. is in middle of taking 3 of 4 from White Sox and pissing off Ozzie Guillen. “We should come in here and beat these guys,” says ChiSox pitcher Mark Buehrle. Aterward Ozzie has nice things to say about Team and Buck says his guys are “playing for pride.” Also it starts to dawn on fans of Team that Team has shot at .400!

Aug. 11: That’s weird. Brad Bergesen beats Cleveland with a complete game, two-hitter. Team is 8-1 since Sh_walter’s arrival.

Aug. 17: RIP Bobby Thomson. Also, Team comes to terms with June draft pick, short stop Manny Machado, handing him a Wieters-esque, $5.25 million bonus.

Aug. 20: Untraded by Team, presumably because, well, SOMEBODY’s gotta play, Wiggy explains rules of baseball to Henry Blanco of Texas.

See? What you need to do is go to dugout

Also during this series, on Aug. 22, Josh Bell takes Cliff Lee deep, twice, for first two MLB home runs.  Blog of Team watches barrage from Jim Palmer party suite!!!

And feisty Nick M. tossed on Aug. 20 for arguing balls and strikes. Things get weird as Felix Pie takes over in right. It just doesn’t feel right. Buck, apparently sensing same, gets tossed later in game.

You don't punch me out, I punch YOU out 

Aug. 22: Lou Pineilla retires.

Aug. 25: Team seals 13th straight losing season. Luke Scott hits 25th home run. Fans delight in budding friendship between Armed One and young fan favorite Felix Pie. Even Blog gets into it, trying to let bygones be bygones with respect to Luke’s penchant for saying soaringly inappropriate things.

Blog has even mitigated stance on Luke’s now-seemingly-shelved rants about guns and God.

Hahaha. Little did Blog know Luke was just months away from turning it up wayyy past 11.

Aug. 29: Sooooo weird. Team sweep Angels for second time in month. Mike Gonzalez gets a “hold,” and lowers ERA to 4.11, and Koji gets 1-pitch save in 1-0 road win over Los Angeles. Was this the little Team we married?

Sept. 4: NYJER-gate

Sept. 17: Derek Jeter fakes getting hit by baseball to get on base. Os fans laugh. But, weirdly, some “experts” in Balto. yak-sphere secretly covet Janky mascot.

Sept 28, 29: Ken Burns airs “tenth inning” annex to “Baseball” documentary. It was silly but DAVE ROBERTS definitely stole that base though. That was big. Also, it did decent job of painting The Bonds Portrait for posterity.

OCTOBER: For 13th Straight October, Baltimore is quiet, except for Team taking 3 of 4 against Detroit to close out regular season with a 66-96 record, 30 games back of Tampa Bay Rays. Still, Team had best record in AL East since Buck’s arrival. It was hopeful end to horrible campaign. MLB sports a delicious little playoff and Giants win it all…

That's a win, Aubrey

Oct. 30: Sh_walter cleans house, removing entire 2010 coaching staff. Later we learn of replacements: Jim Pressley in for Terry Crowley, who becomes roving hitting instructor or something. Willie Randolph in as bench coach. Mark Connor in as pitching coach. Only one Blog will miss is T-Bone Shelby. But that’s purely a personality thing. New coaches, new culture. Blog of Team still wonders if purge had to do with Nicky’s aforementioned “meeting” with Mr. Angelos. No way to know.

Nov. 19: Icky commish Bud Selig admits he’s mucking about with ideas that would expand playoffs make regular season irrelevant.

Dec. 4: As Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez and Adrian Gonzalez go “off the board” in hot stove market, fans grumble. A lot. And yet many argue other teams overpaid for these guys.

Dec. 8: Apparently unable to control his mouth any longer, Luke Scott reprises February rant about guns with new bout of oral spew concerning President Obama’s birth certificate. Luke, buddy, you’d better hit this coming year, that’s all Blog has to say.

Dec. 9: During Winter Meetings Team gets busy, trading for Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy for some guys and re-signing Koji. Only departure of note is David Hernandez. Many folks react to Reynolds deal by invoking Garrett Atkins, proving that they should stick to NFL or at least do a few rudimentary Internet searches before spouting off. Blog wonders if Atkins comparisons, however ignorant, might light fire under Reynolds this coming season. Team also places “hold” on Ceasar Itzuris’ services, so to speak; fans see this as new reason to worry about Brian Roberts’ health.

Dec. 13: Saying 2010 was “one of the hardest years of my life,” Roberts says he’s over health problems and excited to play with new infield crew.

Dec. 14: Earl Weaver debunks New York Times report of his death, confirming his aliveness and lamenting bad knees, inability to play golf. Really, New York Times? You have bury Earl Weaver?

Dec. 15: Every single person in Baltimore has opinion about Adam LaRoche.  First base remains gaping hole as of this writing. Team hasn’t had legitimate first baseman in a long, long time and excuses are wearing thin.

Dec. 17: Team signs retread Jeremy Accardo for bullpen. Team “negotiates” with Kevin Gregg, who apparently is sorting through actual stack of offers.

Dec. 19: Wayward O’s friends goad tipsy Wayward O into predicting Team will finish ahead of Yankees. Blog makes prediction on Twitter, edits Tweet following day for grammar, and refuses to take it back. There is a least a 15 percent likelihood this could happen.

Dec. 23: Apparently feeling Christmassy, Pirates sign Parrot Fatkins to Minor League Deal. Ha ha ha.

It’s entirely possible that other things happened that were significant. Please let Blog know in comments. Blog might be will be traveling so don’t fret if your comment doesn’t get approved right off…

superlive burns bOwlcut ball blast, part 2

Posted in histOry on September 29th, 2010 by The Wayward O

Part Two of boring netlOg is boringer than Part One because TV is showing dumb Red Sox but anyway.

8:04 p.m.: Second oblique reference to Internet! But no discussion of Sports Internet revolution yet.

8:15 p.m.: Ichiro is obtuse genius.

8:17 p.m.: That’s my man AUBREY HUFF getting pwned by Ichiro!! Who was the Oriole they showed getting K’d by Pedro a few minutes ago?

8:27 p.m.: Really? We need to see planes smash into WTC again?

8:29 p.m.: Keith Olbermann with [definitely apocryphal] story about Met-obsessed policeman.

8:35 p.m.: MYSTIQUE & AURA. OK Curt, Blog loves ya for that!

8:42 p.m.: Everybody remembers Luis Gonzalez; fewer remember Tony Womack.

8:44 p.m.: VORP factor ONE …. Yay! Blog is proud that movie acknowledges stat tard revolution even though stat tard revolution is largely fake and dumb.

8:56 p.m.: Blah blah blah steroids.

9:21 p.m.: This is all too soon or something.

9:24 p.m.: You gotta take second Dave Roberts!!!

9:28 p.m.: You gotta go to the ‘pen Grady Little Terry Francona

9:33 p.m.: This is getting kind of boring.

9:47 p.m.: “A joyless march toward the inevitable.” Nice line, Costas. That precisely what Bonds’ march to Home Run record was…

9:49 p.m.: It’s weird, but Barry Bonds is coming out of this thing stronger than Blog had imagined. You really get a sense of his intellect and his struggle with his own image throughout.

9:53 p.m.: Wait, it wasn’t legal?!?

9:56 p.m.: Joe Torre, one of great beneficiaries of Steroid Era, doesn’t like that players were named in Mitchell Report.

10:01 p.m.: Tim Lincecum and ….. ENDY CHAVEZ!?!?!