In the most anticipated return since the announced making of Austin Powers 4*, Baltimore Orioles number one second baseman Brian Roberts stated yesterday that he plans to return to the beleaguered ball club by August 1.
Roberts is hopeful that he won’t have any more setbacks, but the 32 year-old righty has had nothing but setbacks in a 2010 season during which he’s made only 16 plate appearances. Saying Roberts won’t have any more setbacks is like saying Baltimore won’t have any more power outages this summer…or murders.
A close reading of Roberts’ statements to Pravda* Radio reveals that Roberts himself is well aware of his own overly optimistic assessment for a return date.
Said Roberts: “I’m hoping to play in some games down here pretty shortly. And, then maybe get on a minor league rehab assignment….And hopefully join back up with the team and get maybe two full months in.”
Got that? That’s four qualifiers, two maybes and two hopefullys, in three sentences. Do you think Lebron James’ staged announcement will be similarly qualified?
“I am hoping to return to Cleveland, where I may be ready to lead this team to a championship. Hopefully the team will improve so that maybe we can make the Finals and hopefully knock off Kobe. Buy Nike.*”
Roberts’ “announcement” was not much of an announcement. More of a guy trying to make something true by saying it aloud and hoping really hard.* And If Roberts is 100% healthy, then I, too, hope he returns. But back injuries are no hoping matter, and Roberts has spent the first half of the season doing nearly zero baseball-related rehab. If he is going to return to the Orioles at all in 2010, he’s going to have to do a lot more than hope.
Is it even worth it for the team to bring Roberts back to finish out the year?*
The club is 25-59. They may finish the year with fifty wins. Roberts is a sparkplug atop the lineup, but the O’s just got Felix Pie back and Corey Patterson has been surprisingly solid for The Birds. If Roberts returns in August, he could help the team win a few more games. But no single player, let alone a leadoff hitter and second baseman, can single-handedly return the team to respectability. Is it worth risking a herniated disk in order to help the flailing Birds win, at best, three more games?*
As Roberts knows better than anyone else, the O’s recent history in September typically begins with the fall off a cliff. It’s impossible for the team to sink any further than it already has. It’s also impossibly optimistic to think Roberts can come back, play at a high level, and help the team turn the 2010 debacle into something resembling a respectable baseball team. By the time of Roberts’ “hopeful” return, a few trade chips may be gone. Never the fiery leader, Roberts will come back to a team that is bruised, battered, and outmatched nearly every single night. Would the club send him out there just to keep fans interested? Would B Rob downplay his back injury just to try to make good on a portion of the $10 million the club invested in him this year?
I hope not.
*Did you see Austin Powers 3? Nothing funny or good can come from Austin Powers 4.
*Pravda was the ironically named state run newspaper of the Communist Party. It printed whatever the Soviet party line was on any given day. That’s the joke. Like the USSR, Pravda folded in 1991.
*If you live more than 100 miles from where Lebron James decides to play basketball next season, and you still like the pampered, ego-driven shill of human excrement he is after tonight’s horrifying prime time special, then you are dead inside.
*Which is basically the same as praying, only louder.
*See the footnote immediately preceding this one