The Bar Stool Blogger Police Have Arrived …..

April 11, 2010 |

Whether I’m sitting in front of a microphone and our respective WNST audience, or a keyboard in the blogs, I’m hardly ever at a loss for words.

Yet, I’ve been searching for a proper means of summing up my disappointment in Orioles fans, who booed Mike Gonzalez as he departed Friday’s home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

It’s been a frustrating challenge …..

How do I admonish fans, while not letting Gonzalez completely off the hook? I’ve agonized over the complex circumstances and even considered letting it go …..

But, I finally found my inspiration – right here at

That’s right, just one glance at Barstooler Erich Hawbaker’s “Gonzalez Has To Go” blog has provided me with the fitting angle for delivering my message …..

Don’t misunderstand me, Erich is not the guy who gave up Friday’s 9th inning lead – that would be Mike Gonzalez. And, Erich is not the guy who took a BAD on-field situation and made it far WORSE – that would be Dave Trembley.

But, I do think Erich embodies the typical Orioles fan, who’s allowed years of frustration to consume a rational reaction to the struggles of one player, over the course of 4 early season ballgames. And, unless he could honestly tell me something to the contrary, I’d assume if Erich had a seat at Camden Yards, he would’ve joined the chorus of boos when Gonzalez walked his first batter in the home opener.

In his blog, Erich wrestles with the Orioles decision to sign and annoint Mike Gonzalez the team’s CLOSER, because “I haven’t seen anything yet that would lead me to make the same decision.”

Really? Look, Erich is an an educated guy – attending Shippensburg University and employed as a banker. But, in reading his bio, I didn’t see any mention of baseball scouting and experience. Is there something we should know?

Enlighten us …..

I’ve got an idea. Perhaps, we can snatch a BIRD-BRAIN to fly up to the ‘ole bank and tell Erich about interest rates and financing …..

Better yet, maybe “Joe Schmoe” (everybody knows him) can examine Erich’s pile of recent decisions to see if anything questionable stands out.

I think it’s fair to suggest Andy MacPhail has been pretty conservative with the dollar during his 34 months, in Baltimore. Thus, something must have inspired him to give Mike Gonzalez $12 million, over a couple years time.

Here’s a suggestion …. instead of looking for Gonzalez’s “CLOSER” qualities in just 4 appearances, how about taking a look back at his career? While I’ll concede he’s blown saves (as EVERY closer does), he’s also compiled an impressive strikeout/walk ratio and overall WHIP.

If you examine Gonzalez’s past, it’s pretty logical to surmise his brief stretch with the Orioles is uncharacteristic of his resume’. Indeed, 3 appearances doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of a guy who’s spent 8 years in Major League Baseball.

Erich has also questioned the legitimacy of Dave Trembley defending decisions to use Gonzalez in the 9th inning, because “he’s the CLOSER.”

That’s the deal, bro. They’re not paying him $6 million, per season, to pitch in the 7th inning. He’s succeeded in high-pressure situations and he’ll do it, again. If you honestly think he forgot how to pitch during the 696-mile drive from Atlanta to Baltimore, let me know …. I’ve got a beautiful Canton rowhome, on the NORTH side of Patterson Park to sell you …..

Interestingly, Erich feels the the Red Sox and Yankees wouldn’t “put up with this.” Really? The “Blown Save Fairy” has never wandered into the depths of Boston or New York?

If given a choice would you prefer your CLOSER to blow a couple early season games, or the most important game of the postseason?

That’s right, Jonathan Papelbon blew the lead when it mattered most. He surrendered 3 runs in last season’s playoff finale’ against the Angels. The Red Sox held a 2 run lead and he couldn’t hold it.

Let me guess, Mike Gonzalez is not Jon Papelbon? You’re right – Papelbon is DEFINITELY expected to deliver in such situations.

And, Mike Gonzalez also has NOTHING to do with 12 years of pitiful results for Orioles fans.

Yet, on Friday afternoon, his ass paid the freight.

A tormented and jaded crowd leveled their overwhelming frustrations upon a guy that has nothing to do with 12 years of LOSING BASEBALL. That’s right, he pitched poorly over the last 3 days !!!! What the hell was I thinking …..

In truth, I’m not trying to beatup on Erich Hawbaker. I just expect him – and all bloggers to be accountable. I do think a responsibility is attached to blogs. This isn’t some salacious message board. Writers should deliver and defend their work. Thus, I’ll address the theme of Erich’s blog …..

“Gonzalez Has To Go”

Where do you want him to go, Erich? I’m certain a banker understands and appreciates the significance of a $12 million investment. Would you just cut the guy loose? I can hear Andy now, “here’s your money, Mike, best of luck with the Yankees or Red Sox.”

He’s MIKE GONZALEZ – owner of a career 2.67 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 333 strikeouts/133 walks in 282 innings. He’s lefthanded and throws in the mid-90’s.

If the Orioles just “let him go,” he would be free to sign with any team for the Major League minimum salary. And, the Orioles would be obligated to pay the remaining portion – which adds up to $11,200,000.00 over a couple seasons.

Where do you think he would go, Kansas City? Better yet, he’d choose a return stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, right? He’s making the same money, regardless of where he goes. Might as well win, right?

And, consider this situation – the Yankees have one left handed reliever …..

Damaso Marte !!!! He’s 35 years old and compiled a 9.45 ERA, in 21 appearances for the Yankees, in 2009. Do you think they would take Mike Gonzalez for $400,000 ???

He’s not being released – BET YOUR LIFE ON THAT.

So, if “Gonzalez Has To Go,” how will the Orioles make it happen?

Will they trade him? Let me know when you find a team that will gladly eat the contract, while knowing the O’s are desperate to dump the guy.

While you’re at it, find Jen Aniston and see if she’ll accept an invitation to my Roman Shower …..

I know …. Andy MacPhail can package Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins and an autographed Eddie Murray baseball to the Milwaukee Brewers for Prince Fielder.

Should I make the call?

Why am I solving this problem? I’m not the guy who thinks “Gonzalez Has To Go.” And, I’m not one of the umteen thousand buffoons who acted as if Mike Gonzalez was making his debut on WWE’s Monday Night Raw, at Camden Yards, on Opening Day.

This is Erich’s shot at credibility. Who knows, maybe he can get Andy MacPhail out of this awful dilemma.

But, I do have to ask “where was Erich Hawbaker on December 17, 2009?” In fact, I’m curious to know where every disgruntled fan, who’s bent on GONGING GONZALEZ, was on December 17th?

Did you picket the warehouse?

Did you voice displeasure on any talk shows? Did you email the Orioles? Did you, AT LEAST, disparage Gonzalez by using an anonymous screen name on some message board?

Of course, not. But, I’m sure those very message boards are burning up, right now.

I’m not defending Mike Gonzalez. He must turn his game around – or else. And, I’m not defending Dave Trembley. In fact, he’s probably the guy who deserves most of the blame for the current Orioles crisis.

He allowed a pitcher, who struggled through Spring Training, to report for duty – when something was definitely wrong. And, Dave Trembley worsened the entire situation when he figuratively carried a GAS CAN out to the pitchers mound and totally enflamed Gonzalez’s fragile reputation with the fan base.

Yeah, I’m sure Trembley just wanted to win the game. But, I wonder if he thought about the resounding treatment Gonzalez would receive when he walked to the dugout, without his teammates.

I’m not trying to sensationalize the rough treatment Gonzalez received from fans, on Friday. But, it didn’t help the situation. Lets remember, the booing started when he walked his FIRST BATTER. I’m not trying to suggest booing from ANYONE gets into his head, either.

In fact, if booing or anything from the seats affects him, Mike Gonzalez would not have the emotional complexion of a big league ballplayer, let alone a CLOSER. But, don’t think that treatment has no effect, at all. I’d imagine Gonzalez privately has some choice thoughts for Baltimore’s fans, right now.

And, you can bet his teammates have his back. As if another potential divide between players and fans is needed !!!! The booing was wrong – it’s unproductive and in a roundabout way, such crowd reaction diminishes the homefield advantage.

Be assured, I’m not openly criticizing Mike Gonzalez, Dave Trembley or the fans.

And, in reality, I’m not criticizing Erich Hawbaker – provided he’s accountable for his work.

This is his chance.