Mysterious player on O’s roster

June 13, 2011 | Keith Melchior

This player has been pretty much a stalwart on the Orioles’  roster since 1996. He shows up at the ball park just about every day and makes his way through the clubhouse and onto the bench. He has outlasted former managers Davey Johnson, Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo, and Dave Trembley.

Sometimes he sits next to the manager. Sometimes he’s next to another player. Sometimes he makes his way out to the bullpen and sits there during games. There are times he can’t be found anywhere. He hasn’t been spotted in the owner’s box since the end of the 1997 season. However, he does seem to be fairly close to the GM.  He wears the home white uniform, the black Friday uniform, and the road gray uniform.

Everyone is familiar with this mysterious player, although many deny he is a part of the team. Those are the same people who look forward to opening day every year, only to be heartbroken by the end of June.

So who is this mysterious person lurking on the Oriole roster?

His name is EXCUSE, and I, for one, am tired of seeing him being an integral part of the Baltimore Orioles.

For 13 seasons the Orioles have bumbled, stumbled, and fumbled games away. There are times they look like they are ready to contend for a playoff spot and times when they couldn’t beat a local tee-ball team.

There’s been one constant on the team since 1996. EXCUSE.  First it was a 12 yr old fan named Jeffrey Mayer, who was blamed for taking away the Orioles chances against the Yankees in the 1996 ALCS, then it was Armando Benitez hanging a slider to light hitting Tony Fernandez of the Cleveland Indians in the 1997 ALCS. Following that 1997 season, the allegations and denials surrounding fines going to a certain charity and the DaveyGate scandal surfaced between owner Peter Angelos and manager Davey Johnson, leading to Johnson’s “resignation” after 2 winning seasons, which happened to be the last 2 seasons the Orioles were in the postseason. EXCUSE was all over that one.

Since then EXCUSE has been with the team just about every day for the past 13 1/3 seasons.  He seemed to surround Oriole GM’s Pat Gillick, Frank Wren, Sid Thrift, Jim Beattie, Mike Flanagan, Jim Duquette on a daily basis as the team floundered and sputtered. He has recently been seen keeping company with Andy McPhail.

EXCUSE has seemingly affected just about every player that has worn a Baltimore Orioles uniform since 1996.  David Segui used him to collect a few million dollars for NOT playing baseball. Bobby Bonilla used him in a way that gets him paid a salary of $500,000 over the next 3 seasons and Bonilla hasn’t been here for over 13 years. Robby Alomar used him to spit on an umpire and not be suspended for the playoffs in 1997. Rafael Palmeiro used him to explain a steroid incident. Miguel Tejada tried to use him in a controversy surrounding B-12 shots.

EXCUSE has riddled the pitching staff and claimed the likes of Daniel Cabrera, Terry Mathews, Sidney Ponson, Eric DuBose, Erik Bedard, Buddy Groom, Kris Benson, Rodrigo Lopez, Kevin Millwood, Steve Kline, Matt Riley, Bruce Chen, Russ Ortiz, Pat Hengten, Josh Towers, Hector Carrasco, John Parrish, John Maine and Jorge Julio to name a few.  Over the last 3 years, EXCUSE has made friends with Brian Roberts, Koji Uehara, Luke Scott, Mark Reynolds, Felix Pie, Nick Markakis, Brad Bergesen, Michael Gonzalez, Jake Fox, Chris Tillman, Jim Johnson, Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, Derreck Lee, Cesar Izturis, Kevin Gregg and, according to some insiders, now it appears Brian Matusz and EXCUSE are keeping company.

Andy McPhail came out 3 seasons ago and told the fans the team probably wasn’t going to win many ball games, which they didn’t, and to exercise patience while he tries to rebuild a team that has been in shambles and depleted of minor league talent for years. McPhail’s plan to grow the arms and buy the bats hasn’t worked out very well, as the arms can’t seem to throw many more than 100 pitches and last more than 5 innings per game and the bats have grounded into double plays, and left runners in scoring position on many, many, many occasions when 1 or 2 runs could have made a difference in the outcome.

EXCUSE is the reason there hasn’t been a Baltimore Orioles’ playoff game since 1997, a World Series victory since 1983, a CY Young award winner since Steve Stone in 1980, an AL Rookie of the Year since Gregg Olson in 1989, and an MVP since Cal Ripken in 1991. That’s 20 years without a major award presented to a Baltimore Oriole player. NO EXCUSE!!

EXCUSE has made its way into the crowd at OPACY as thousands of faithful fans have gotten tired of it and chose to stay away from the ball park on a nightly basis. What used to be a very hard ticket to obtain, is now more expensive on game days and so-called “premium games” against both the Yankees and Red Sox, mainly because both of those teams have huge followings at Camden Yards.  Sadly, there is NO EXCUSE for that. Oriole attendance reached an all time high in 1998 when 3,711,132 attended, an average of 45, 816 per game. Since that point, attendance has declined almost 54%, to 1,733,018 or 21,662 per game in 2010. That is the lowest attendance figure since 1988 when the team started 0-21 and finished with 107 losses. In 2010 they were second only to Toronto in MLB overall attendance figures, averaging 24,693. So far in 2011 the Orioles have averaged 20,455 thru 37 dates and are dead last in MLB combined overall attendance with an  average of 21,059 per game. When Cal Ripken retired, the Orioles began their steady decline out of the top 10 in attendance and have been among the league’s 5 worst attended ballparks. Basically, it’s apparent no one wants to see them play, either at home or on the road.

I am sick of seeing and tired of having the word EXCUSE  attached to the Baltimore Orioles. It’s time to dump the EXCUSE, suck it up and do what you have to do to start winning baseball games on a consistent basis, even if it means oiling the hinges to be able to open the pocketbook a lot wider than it has over the last 14 years.

Baltimore Orioles; NO MORE EXCUSES and if you want one to use, try this; the EXCUSE is, there is no EXCUSE.