Back With More Baseball

August 15, 2008 |

I’m sorry I missed all of you that made the WNST 10th anniversary party. I would have loved to have been there if I had actually been in the country. I was in the UK for a family reunion on my wife’s side, and while all you attendees were talking Baltimore sports, I was learning to play cricket, which is undoubtedly the dumbest sport on earth.
As the NFL season approaches, it unofficially marks the end of the Oriole’s season, at least from the casual fan’s point of view. The Orioles have been surprising with their win/loss record, even if they are in the basement of the AL East. But that surprising ’08 will do nothing for them in ’09 if they can’t bring in some talent. I don’t think it should be impossible. It’s really only two steps.
Number one, sign the good, young players they have here to four-year deals. Players like Roberts, Guthrie, and Markakis; get them locked up and other players around the league will see that the O’s are committed to trying to win. Then, go out and overpay for some free agents. I know that it’s not always a prudent way to go about it, but when you’ve sucked for ten years, you have to do something to break out of the rut. The Tigers overpaid for Pudge a few years back and spent big money on an injured Magglio Ordonez. They also threw some pretty good coin at an aging Kenny Rogers, and even took a chance on Troy Percival, which cost them a lot and got them nothing in return. But remember how bad the Tigers were. Why would any free agent in their right mind want to go to Detroit back then? Well, no one did, except the ones who were given offers that were too good to pass up. And you know what? They went from being a 100-loss team to being in the World Series in a very short time.
With the Orioles recent history of losing, coupled with the fact that they are in the same division with the Yankees, Red Sox, and the up and coming Rays, it’s going to be hard to convince players to come here. The O’s are going to have to decide which guys they really want, and then go out and give them offers that they can’t refuse.
I know that both of these steps, (signing your own young guys to long term deals, and overspending on free agents) will cost a lot of money, but this is the high stakes table. Either play the game or give your seat to someone who will. You can’t just keep folding your hand, deal after deal after deal. Sometimes you’ve got to bet, sometimes you’ve got to raise, and sometimes you’ve got to go all in. The O’s have folded their hands for too long. Sometimes you make deals and get burned, like with Albert Belle and Javy Lopez. It happens. Just like sometimes guys hook straights on the river to beat your two pair. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t play your cards right. Sometimes you’re going to win and sometimes you’re going to lose. Sometimes you’re going to get lucky, and sometimes you’re going to get screwed. But no matter what happens, you’ve got to keep playing.
Here are some baseball tidbits I picked up from various broadcasts, which I found absolutely incredible.
  1. Frank Thomas faced Nolan Ryan twelve times in his career. Thomas, at an early, but dominant age, while Ryan was at the end of his career. Both guys are Hall of Famers, or at least will be. How do you think this match-up went? Would you guess that Thomas stuck out 11 of the 12 at bats? Wow!
  2. So much is made of protection in a lineup. When you think of Manny Ramirez’s career, as incredible as it has been, you would have to say that he has never struggled to find other boppers on his team. From his days in Cleveland with Albert Belle, and Jim Thome, to his stay in Boston with Big Papi, Manny has hit in some of the deepest lineups in modern baseball. With that in mind, how impressive is it that Vladimir Guerrero has never had a teammate hit 30 home runs in a season. Never.
  3. With 220 more at bats, Derek Jeter will have more at bats than any Yankee in history. More than Mantle, Gehrig, Berra, Ruth, DiMaggio, all of them. It doesn’t seem possible.  
Enjoy the weekend.