Want the craziest true story I’ve heard in Dallas in my first 24 hours? Apparently, I missed running into Mark Teixeira and Scott Boras in the lobby of the Ravens team hotel here in “Big D” by 15 hours. As much as we’re following this Teixeira situation at WNST as a major Baltimore news story – it has been the most followed, camped-out Baltimore media popcorn trail since Jayne Miller chased Jobie Palczynski through my old Dundalk stomping grounds of Berkshire (the neighborhood I played little league, in no less) back in 2000 – I never though I’d almost cross paths with the pair of them at their “Texas” hideaway when I boarded the plane.
(I’m even getting people angered by giving them what I feel are “breaking news” stories on the Teixeira trail. Hey folks, news is news and we’re doing our best to be honorable as well. But who knows where the honor is amongst these baseball people who all lie as their lips move in these negotiations that involve crazy millions of dollars.)
Here’s the worst part: I’m a lifelong reporter and journalist and had I bumped into “Tex” I don’t know if I would’ve even recognized him and I have no idea what I’d even say or ask. Or whether I’d believe anything any of these cats would tell me.
Would I say, “Hey dude, how bad do you really want to play for the Orioles?” Or, “Why in the world would you not sign in Anaheim or Boston knowing what you know about this seemingly eternal mess?” And most viscerally, “Why did you hire Scott Boras as your agent?” But after thinking about it, I’d probably simply say this: “Do you care about Baltimore and Baltimore baseball and if you do what will it take to get you to be an Oriole and want to fix this for your hometown?”
(And that’s assuming that I’d actually be given the opportunity to ask questions in order to get lied to by them. The Orioles deny legitimate journalists from asking questions like these. And they resent me pointing out when they lie. But they DO lie. So do the agents. So do the general managers. So do the other owners, like John Henry.)
Maybe Tex would actually look at me with tears in his eyes – the way Mike Flanagan once did – and say, “I’m coming to Baltimore because things need to be changed and I’m the guy to do it!” Now of course, if Teixeira DID say that, I’d be the first guy buying a season ticket and singing the praises of Peter G. Angelos as making a significant change in the direction of the ballclub.
This thing has gone from the ridiculous to sublime for me. All of the effort I put into Free The Birds and my efforts to shed legitimate light on whether this ownership group really cares about Baltimore and baseball in Baltimore comes down to “tipping points” in their stewardship of the franchise like this one right here, right now.
As Third Eye Blind would ask: “How’s it gonna be…?” Are you going to step up and make this franchise real again and make people like ME — and there are thousands of people like me…more who feel the way I do than don’t that’s for damned sure based on the empty seats alone and the empty city on all of those summer nights – want to come back to the ballpark consistently and live, eat, breath, sleep and DIE Orioles baseball?
Honestly, there were 60,000 of us who sat in 15-degree windchills to watch the purple football team play two weeks ago. The city is on “buzz alert” on a holiday Saturday night with purple fever.
When’s it gonna be like that for the Orioles again? When can we be proud to be Orioles fans again and have some civic pride instead of the mournful and deep shame and anger and “numbness” so many of us sadly feel and desperately want to change.
Signing Tex would say two things:
1. It would tell me the Orioles are serious about competing for a championship just for stepping up and winning the first competition — the offseason. There is no “second place” here for the Orioles. If they can’t get a kid who played his high school games in the shadow of the lights of Camden Yards in a glorious era to want to come home and wear a gray sweater at Yankee Stadium that says “BALTIMORE” across the crest, then who the hell will they EVER get to take their “Confederate” money? More than anything, whatever he’s worth to Boston or Anaheim or Washington, he’s worth at LEAST 25% more to this franchise right now. Especially considering all the money they have from their TV deal at MASN. And the way they’ve slashed payroll waiting for a “tipping point” player. Teixeira is a game changer (in perception anyway) for them because it’s their ONE chance to win back the fans. Their money would be well-spent for the buzz factor alone. This hot stove conversation during the holidays and Ravens playoff drive is GREAT for them. People want to “buy in” to Orioles baseball. I want to “buy in” to Andy McPhail and the new regime. But I need to see changes. This is the Orioles franchise saying: “Come back! We’re all in!”
2. From the player side, it would say that Teixeira really IS in Baltimore to “fix things.” Teixeira — unlike Kevin Millar or Jay Payton or Omar Daal or Aubrey Huff or Adam Jones or Luke Scott or Matt Wieters – has a choice in where he’ll play for the rest of his career. Picking Boston or Anaheim (or even Washington if the dough were right) would be what virtually every free agent in MLB would do. The only one who didn’t choose elsewhere in the past decade was Miguel Tejada, and the Orioles overpaid by at least $12 million to get him and there’s no doubt that Miggy has second-guessed his decision because he told me as much himself. Make no mistake about it: if the Orioles snag Teixeira it’ll say as much about HIM as it will about them. They don’t deserve him, really, no matter what they pay. But maybe he is that special guy who will be teary-eyed about Baltimore and wanting to return the Orioles to glory. That alone will brand him as a “Ripkenesque” figure (and then the heavy lifting will begin civic-ly for him). Honestly, his first phone call should be to Ripken and reach out by aligning himself as closely as possible with Cal. (As an aside, I DID get some inside “community” information on Teixeira. He’s a major donor to his alma mater, Mt. St. Joe, donating a “seven-figure” number to the school over his first six years in the bigs. ANOTHER reason to think Teixeira would be a “right guy” as Eckman would say about his commitment to Baltimore via being an “Oriole for life.”
So here’s the Teixeira and Baltimore “passing in the night” story for you:
Several Ravens staffers and fans, in town early to sharpen their golf skills, checked into Dallas a day early. Word is Teixeira and Boras stood in the lobby of what has become the Ravens’ team hotel in Las Colinas and looked up at the ESPN scroll on the bar TV and Teixeira said something to the effect of: “Well, they found out about this pretty quickly in Boston!”
No doubt Boras “leaked” the “covert” meeting. But that’s the game. Stir up the masses and use the media as a weapon.
The plotline thickens daily. But I’m not convinced Teixeira needs to sign anything before next week or any self-imposed “Christmas deadline.” Because Boras’ words and deadlines slip. And Red Sox owner John Henry’s media negotiating tactics sharpen. And all the “Peters” twist in the wind, writing blogs and quoting unnamed sources who openly lie to everybody about everything. It’s so bad that John Schuerholz (as fine a guy as I know and an old-schooler who John Steadman so admired) has taken to name calling.
(And by “Peters” I meant: Peter Schmuck, Peter Gammons, Peter King and Peter Pascarelli. Feel free to insert your Dick jokes here.)
I don’t think there’s any deadline. I think Boras has this thing right where he wants it. The media is trailing, fueling the fire. The fans are into it. It’s the ONLY game Baltimore fans have had to play in years. It’s like a pennant race that money CAN buy! The Baltimore fans are killing the Orioles to drive up the price. John Henry is playing poker. Arte Moreno is laying low because he’s got a pretty damned good offer as well. And the Nationals are an outsider with a big need and a big offer.
The only thing better than having four suitors is having five. Who knows if the Yankees will want to play?
Boras has negotiated Mark Teixeira into the stratosphere with this salary drive pitting four cities and four fan bases and four ownership groups into “crisis” mode. It’s a true hot stove bonanza amidst financial crisis in the “real” world. Kudos to Boras! It’s gonna make Teixeira plenty rich but it’s not gonna make him a “right guy.”
Only he can decide what that means and where his “heart” lies. Or his wallet. And why he’ll choose wherever he chooses.
If he doesn’t come to Baltimore and play for Peter Angelos’ Orioles in 2008, I really can’t blame him. But god help him and the Orioles if they can’t work this out because they’ll both get crushed by the fans. And Teixeira will have three cities where he’ll get lustily booed next season.
Pass the popcorn…