O’s can do the right thing this weekend…

August 10, 2007 | Drew Forrester

…now the only question that remains:  Will they?

The deadline is rapidly approaching for the Orioles to sign their 2007 1st round draft pick, catcher-wonder-boy Matt Wieters.

The deal must be done on or before August 15.

Wieters is – and this is a thought echoed by virtually every reputable major league scout – a virtual “can’t miss” prospect.  How the Orioles stumbled upon him and actually made the RIGHT pick for once is mysterious, but they now have the chance to get him in the fold and help solidify the future of the catching position in Baltimore (oops…I meant to write: the catching position in the Middle Atlantic region – don’t want to offend any of you reading this in Smyrna, DE or Fairfax, VA).

So, that brings us to this weekend.

Here it is, nearly mid-August and once again, the O’s are an afterthought in the American League East.  To that end, football season has started here in Baltimore (oops, I mean, “the region”) and it was just a week ago that an announced crowd of 25,000 wandered out to steamy M&T Bank Stadium to watch the Ravens and Redskins play what basically amounted to a 2-hour session of flag football.  The Orioles can’t draw 25,000 live bodies for two weeknight games in a row and the football team had 25,000 or so in the stadium in 100 degree heat to watch a glorified two-team practice session.  My point?  Football is upon us - and another season of disappointing baseball is winding down.

This weekend, though…the Orioles could steal some of the pigskin spotlight AND, at the same time, reward their fans for hanging in there with them through this “decade of despair”.

I know the Birds don’t take well to ideas that originate on WNST – but this is a directive they should absolutely follow at some point this Saturday or Sunday.

SIGN MATT WIETERS RIGHT NOW AND GET HIM TO THE PITCHER’S MOUND TO THROW OUT THE FIRST PITCH IN ONE OF THIS WEEKEND’S HOME GAMES.

That IS a directive.  Do it.  Get it done.  For once, think about the FANS first and the money and/or your pride second.

We are all aware that the club has to deal with Scott Boras in the Wieters negotiations.  And that means, like it or not, “the kid” is gonna win the fight.

He wants $10 million to sign.  EVERYONE in baseball knows that is his number.  He’s a bonafide future All-Star, if all the experts are right.

The Orioles have been losing for 10 years.  No free agents want to come here.  The fan base has dwindled down to “family and friends” over the last six years.

Let’s see – who has the leverage?  The O’s?  Or Matt Wieters?

Hmmm…would the answer be, “Matt Wieters”?  Yep, it would.

Give him the money.  Stop pussy-footing around over the $500k or whatever it is that you’re haggling over…and just give Wieters the money, have him throw out the first pitch on Saturday or Sunday, and show the fans you really ARE worried about winning and losing.

And, that’s winning and losing ON THE FIELD.

Sure, if they cave in and give him the $10 mil, they’ll feel like losers at the bargaining table.  Well, that’s the price you pay for losing ten straight seasons.

Here’s the funniest part of the whole thing:  The Orioles ARE going to sign Matt Wieters.  And they ARE going to give him $10 million to sign.  That IS going to happen either on or before August 15.

So, given that, why on earth wouldn’t they just get him signed right now and let him stroll out there to the pitcher’s mound with his chest puffed out and his wallet stuffed with money on Sunday and toss a ball to Paul Bako (you know he’ll be behind the plate on Sunday)?  Don’t let the team head off to New York next week and then sign Wieters at the 11th hour next Wednesday and lose the chance to show him off to the faithful THIS weekend.  Sign him EARLY…give in a little…hell, the fans have been giving in since 1998 or so…the team needs to give in a little and understand it’s time they take advantage of the very rare positive PR chances they’re presented with and act on them.

I know the crowds this weekend will look more like Fenway Park at Camden Yards than Oriole Park at Camden Yards and that’s even more of a reason to pull off this signing-stunt.  Let the Red Sox faithful sit there for 10 minutes and soak in the fact that the team is once again SERIOUS about competing in the American League East.  Matt Wieters is one of the first steps they can take to proving that point to the fans both in Baltimore and Boston.

The spotlight is once again on the Orioles.  Will they do the RIGHT thing this weekend and get this done in front of the hometown faithful?

If they care about their fans, they will.

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