Losing mentality still evident with the Orioles

April 29, 2009 | Luke Jones

As if losing 11 of their last 14 games isn’t bad enough for the Orioles, players are now complaining about the infield at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

In an article published by The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday, Peter Schmuck revealed several infielders—including Aubrey Huff and Cesar Izturis—are suggesting the length of the grass is a major factor in the club’s erratic defense this season.

Just add it to the long list of excuses accumulated over the last 12 years of losing.

The premise behind a thicker infield was to help a pitching staff expected to struggle mightily, not an uncommon idea in the history of the game.  The problem is the grass hasn’t managed to stop Orioles pitchers from allowing a league-high 40 home runs.

Go figure on that one.

Then, of course, let’s move the fences back.  That will solve everything!

Not surprisingly, the club tried it in 2001 and went 30-50 at home, as the Orioles hit only 58 home runs at Camden Yards that season.  After numerous complaints that it had altered the angle of the batter’s eye wall, the original dimensions were restored in 2002 and have been left alone since.

Losing organizations will find excuses just about anywhere—whether it’s the length of the grass, the park dimensions, or the hot dog vendor’s excessive yelling.  Why waste time with trivial items like signing free agents and improving the farm system when you can complain about the ballpark?

It just shows that despite an improving farm system and the success of several young players at the major league level, the culture of losing is still alive and well in Baltimore.

It’s no surprise hearing players complain about the infield, especially after the well-publicized comments that were made in spring training regarding the facilities in Ft. Lauderdale and Sarasota—problems that have gone unresolved for years.  In fact, players were completely justified in voicing their displeasure about the substandard spring training facilities to ownership.

However, complaining about the length of the infield grass just reaffirms the losing mentality that has stricken this franchise.

The remedies for the longer grass are simple.  First, exercise your diligence as professionals and take the extra infield practice to make the necessary adjustments—something Dave Trembley preaches with his club.

Don’t complain about the infield and make excuses—the fans that are still listening don’t want to hear that.

Better yet, voice these concerns privately to general manager Andy MacPhail.  The grounds crew only follows the instructions handed down from the front office, so fix the problem—if it is, in fact, a problem.  I suppose it’s possible this has already been brought to his attention, and if it has, why isn’t anything being done about it?

Considering the speed at which the organization is addressing the spring training situation, you can expect the grass to be addressed when Nick Markakis is taking his farewell tour in 2022.

Ultimately, the infield grass should not be an issue.  It should actually provide a home-field advantage if it is truly the “longest grass in baseball” as Huff describes it.  Shouldn’t opposing defenses be having much more difficulty than the infielders playing half of their games there?  It’s common sense.

The losing mentality of making excuses needs to stop before the younger players begin feeding into the same culture.  It doesn’t matter if the grass is too thick or the infield is made of concrete; it’s not going to slow down a ball that’s hit 375 feet into the Orioles bullpen.

We expected the losing—MacPhail told us this before spring training even started—but don’t make excuses.  The main goal of this season is development, watching young players gain experience as they prepare to hopefully compete in the next few years.  Part of that process is adopting a winning attitude—going about your business like a winning franchise—even if the results aren’t there.  Unfortunately, this attitude starts at the top with ownership, and it remains to be seen if the positive strides made by MacPhail will continue without interference.

Until then, stop making excuses and try to improve.  We will tolerate the losing—there’s no other alternative right now—but don’t insult our intelligence.

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