no matter what kind of money is thrown around to lure them to Charm City.
“Go there? And get my ass kicked 95 times a summer?”
“I think I’ll pass, but thanks for the interest.”
That’s reason #1 why I continue to beat up on the Apologists in town who seem to think this stink-of-losing that envelopes our baseball team is somehow part of “the process”.
No, it’s not part of anything good.
It artificially creates a blockage in the effort to improve the team, because guys like Mark Teixeira and Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder don’t want to be part of the process-otherwise-known-as-losing.
So when you don’t really try to win — and anyone with a brain knows that’s the gospel truth…the Orioles haven’t made winning their number one priority in a decade now — you wind up getting saddled with guys like Guerrero and Lee and Reynolds who aren’t able to draw the interest of REALLY good teams because — watch this connection — those teams are only interested in signing REALLY good players. While the Rangers were busy signing a really good player in Beltre last winter, the Orioles picked up Mark Reynolds and his glove that works half the time and his bat that seemingly works the other half. Checkmate…
When you lose, you can’t get really good players to come in and help you win.
When you win, though, players will show up.
And that’s what’s going to happen with the Ravens, just you watch and see.
Armed with disposable salary-cap cash, they’ll do what the Orioles are afraid to do. They’ll overpay for someone because he gives them a better chance of winning.
The Ravens are only interested in one thing: Winning. That means, starting Friday, they’ll go about the business of making personnel decisions that lead them down that path and that path only.
Will they win?
That remains to be seen. They have to beat the Steelers when it matters at some point, and as we’ve seen in the John Harbaugh-Joe Flacco era, they’ve failed to do that over the course of three straight years.
But you can go to bed tonight knowing one thing. This year’s team will have better players than last year’s team. The Ravens wouldn’t EVER go into a season without giving themselves the best chance to win.
A lot has to go right for any team – the Ravens or anyone else – to get to the Super Bowl, but you can rest assured that the four players dismissed on Monday were merely looked at as collateral damage by Ozzie Newsome and Company. Someone had to pay the price for not beating the Steelers last year — and in this case, the four who earned the pink slip were Heap, McGahee, Gregg and Mason. They met their fate because their value to the team didn’t equal their salary…and because the Ravens assume they can use the money saved to make their 2011 team better.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see one, two, or, perhaps, even three of those players return at a reduced rate-of-pay, but I also think the Ravens are comfortable sending each of them off into the sunset. And if it turns out that a few of the recently-departed DO return, they’ll do so at a more favorable contract that enables the team to sign a couple of their own free agents like, perhaps, Marshal Yanda, Chris Carr or Josh Wilson.
As I said back in March when the lockout was imminent, “The league can’t go on without the owners…but the players…the league ALWAYS goes on without them. They’re just guys in helmets. The league went on when Johnny Unitas retired, the league went on when Lawrence Taylor retired, the league went on when Jerry Rice retired and the league will go on when Ray Lewis retires.”
With no disrespect to Mason or Heap or Gregg or McGahee — they’re just football players.
And because the Ravens have won — and because they’ve run their organization the right way — better football players will always want to come here and be part of it.
Watch it unfold over the next week or two.
You’ll see what I mean.