I know, football season is just around the corner and with that, baseball season in Baltimore is over. I’ve heard it, I’ve said it and there’s no doubt once that first pigskin goes in the air next Monday at 8:04 am in Westminster, the Ravens take over the local sports scene and the O’s are left to wallow in their annual rite of fall called “4th place misery”.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way this year. Baseball season can co-exist with football season. At least for a while.
I know what you’re thinking. Has Drew lost his mind? “It’s football season, man…baseball season is OVER,” – is that what you’re muttering to yourself? Well, while I’m not going to question the power of the Ravens, because they certainly are supreme in this town, I think the Orioles could keep the city of Baltimore energized for baseball in 2008 by finishing up 2007 with some smart decisions that really aren’t that hard to implement. In fact, it would merely require some well-placed money and a couple of intelligent marketing announcements to prove to people in Baltimore that the club is worthy of some off-season excitement and, perhaps, even some winter time ticket-buying to get ready for ’08 baseball.
So, with that, here are my personal “6 points of light” that I introduced on the air today during The Comcast Morning Show. If the O’s would just follow this trail of six, I think it would go a long way in letting people know that the team DOES care about the fans and that ’08 could be a turn-around year both on and off the field.
In no order of importance, the “6 points of light follow”. By the end of this baseball season, the Orioles should do the following:
1. Give Dave Trembley the full-time managerial job. Sure, it’s only 29 games, but after basically one month as the team’s skipper, Trembley has the locker room in better shape, he keeps the fussing to a minimum, and, the team has won more games than they’ve lost, without Tejada and Mora for most of those games, by the way. There’s less tension, less strife and, in general, the players have a new-found respect for Trembley because they feel like he’s thinking baseball and thinking winning all the time. It’s obvious they like him and it’s VERY obvious they’re playing harder for THIS manager then they did for the guy who started the season on the bench. Trembley deserves the job. Give it to him.
2. Sign Matt Wieters. No use in pussy-footing around until August 15 and playing that mindless negotiating game with his agent, Scott Boras. Wieters has the team by the short hairs. He knows it, Boras knows it and MacPhail knows it too. Sign Wieters NOW. Give him the money, whatever it is, and let’s get his O’s career started. No excuses. No bellyaching about the amount of the signing bonus – you knew you were in bed with a snake like Boras when you drafted Wieters. Sign him. Nothing else will be acceptable. Sign him.
3. Make a deal at the upcoming trading deadline that helps the team in 2008. I’m not really sure EXACTLY who I’m talking about bringing in, but that’s why MacPhail gets his $500k a year – that’s HIS job. Rumor is that Morgan Ensberg is available in Houston. Maybe they’ll eat part of his salary? If Patterson leaves at season’s end, why not move Mora to CF and let Ensberg patrol 3B in Baltimore? He’s had an off year or so in Houston, but let me remind you that Mike Lowell was given up for dead in Florida a few years back and he’s bounced back nicely in Boston, right? Is Carlos Pena available from Tampa Bay? Would they take Aubrey Huff back?(ha ha) – If Pena is available, maybe he’d like a change in scenery from dreary, losing-filled Tampa Bay. Are there other names out there who would help the O’s next year? If so, chase after them NOW and show the fans you’re already thinking about 2008.
4. I know the O’s already botched the road jersey issue once in ’07, but they can still remedy their April failure by announcing RIGHT NOW they’re going to put BALTIMORE back on the road uniforms in 2009. Obviously the deadline for ’08 has passed – mostly due to the fact they insist on never letting the fans have a say in things – but they can clean up that turd they laid in the spring by stepping forward right now and telling everyone they’ll be making the road jersey change for the ’09 campaign. And guess what else that means? They can start selling replica shirts NOW. That means more money – maybe for A-Rod in the off-season?
5. Give Erik Bedard his $60 million for 4 years and get him signed. The astute baseball franchises that really want to win do this: They scout players. They draft them. They groom them for the big leagues. They bring them up and watch them flourish. Then they sign them to a long-term deal and allow them to become fixtures of the team’s foundation. The Orioles – not astute by any means but who cares at this point? – scouted Bedard, drafted him, groomed him and now, finally, he’s become one of the best dozen pitchers in the majors. KEEP HIM!! And the only way to keep him is by parting with cash. Lots of it. Sign the man. Now.
6. And lastly, in 1983, Cal Ripken Jr. caught that line drive at shortstop and the O’s won the World Series over the Phillies. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of that championship. That title, along with Cal’s upcoming entry into the Hall of Fame, are the only two things we’ve really had to get excited about over the last two and a half decades. So, even though the O’s don’t know the game-by-game schedule for next season yet, they can certainly announce RIGHT NOW that will take a full home-weekend in ’08 to honor and commemorate the ’83 World Series titleists. Bobbleheads, t-shirts, posters, etc. It should be a 3-day extravaganza and wonderful trip down memory lane for lots of “old school” O’s fans who remember ’83 with great fondness. Do NOT botch this up with stories about “expenses” and “the team wasn’t owned by the current ownership group back then” and all that other malarkey the current organization is famous for uttering when they’re trying to dodge their civic obligation to people who have been ticket-buying patrons of this club forever. Make the celebration weekend happen and tell everyone NOW that you plan on honoring the ’83 club.
If the Orioles could somehow see fit to do just those six little things between now and October, it might just keep them in the public’s eye and make the next 10 weeks or so both football AND baseball season. It’s been a long time since the Fall has been considered baseball season in these parts.
Let’s hope the O’s don’t squander this chance to keep us interested in ’07 and ’08.