Wieters fever: Will he be the savior that this franchise needs?

May 28, 2009 | Nestor Aparicio

We fully expect that Camden Yards will be packed tomorrow night for the debut of Matt Wieters. It’s a Friday night, the forecast is good and this is probably the most unique evening of baseball in Baltimore since “Fan Appreciation Night” back in May 1988, when the team was greeted with unconditional love after an 0-21 start.

Clearly, the Orioles marketing folks have finally put the “WNST Cap” on and used an evening to create an “event.” They were already guaranteed about 30,000 on a $6 student/fireworks night. And after a couple of years of press, accolades and hype, the can’t-miss-kid is coming to town. They could’ve made his debut tonight, but they’ve chosen a night when they were already en route to a full house. This alone, is a departure from some of their foolish decisions related to getting people interested in the team.

Here’s where you can make all of the jokes about how few people still DO go to Orioles games. Yesterday, the Orioles battled back from an 8-3 deficit to win a game in dramatic, 11th-inning style with a walk-off home run by young Nolan Reimold and there weren’t 5,000 people in the stadium to witness it. On Tuesday night, it was truly a “friends and family” night with less than 3,000 people there in the rain to watch young Jason Berken pitch his debut.

That won’t be the case tomorrow night when the flashbulbs glow all over Camden Yards for the coming of the catcher/messiah. It will be a virtual “sea of orange.”

(ONE FAIR WARNING: If you’re planning on “walking up” tomorrow at 6:30 and getting in, think again! The Orioles have one of the most inept game day staffs in the universe. You will be standing line until the 4th inning trying to get in if you roll up there at any point after 6 p.m.)

Oh sure they’ll say Wieters is “just another ballplayer” and one of the many “fine young prospects in the organization.” Andy McPhail and Dave Trembley have already begun calling for “calm” and have made the “give the kid some space” pronouncements.

They’ll say all of the “right” things because they don’t know if he’ll hit .300 or flop once he gets to the big leagues. No one ever knows but Wieters is about as much of a sure thing as we’re going to get in this lifetime in an Orioles uniform.

All of the indicators of maturity, pedigree and ability are there for Wieters to literally be a Hall of Famer.

Wieters HOF

Go to www.mattwietersfacts.com for more fun like this above…

He was the best player in the draft, who was made hard to draft because of the Scott Boras factor and signability issue. But at the 11th hour two years ago, Peter Angelos found a way to get it done and get him into an orange jersey.

Wieters has come into the organization and literally earned every promotion he’s received over the last two years.

But the franchise needs “saving” as much OFF the field as on the field. Sure, winning will be the ultimate tonic for all that ails the Orioles. (At least that’s what the current ownership believes.)

But what will Wieters’ impact really be in Baltimore over the next four months?

Or four years?

Or for the next decade or so, if he’s truly “The Chosen One” for the organization?

Will he be a guy who does charity work and lives in the community?

Will he be another guy who lives “out of town” during the offseason?

Will he be stupid enough to go on a radio show and call Baltimore a “horseshit” city? (Doubtful, by the way!)

Will he be able to hit .300 and have the kind of impact that Joe Mauer has had in Minnesota?

Will we be comparing him to Mike Piazza or Earl Williams in 2011?

Will he be Cal Ripken or Jim Fuller?

Will he be Eddie Murray or Craig Worthington?

Where will he bat in the order?

Will fans flock to see him after tomorrow night? Will Wieters be playing in front of 40,000 empty green seats once the “shine” wears off his star?

Will he be a “reason to come to the ballpark” more so than Nick Markakis or Brian
Roberts, who have both exceeded any reasonable expectation over the past five years yet still play in an empty stadium most nights when the Red Sox or Yankees aren’t in town booing the home team?

What’s going to make this promotion of Matt Wieters “special” somewhere down the line?

Here’s hoping that all of our wildest dreams or fantasies as Orioles fans are realized with this promotion on Friday. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of the end of the 12 years of hell and the 16 years of lousy ownership and leadership and accountability. (I’m in no way holding my breath that the Angelos clan will ever learn how to be a quality community partner and civic leaders for the greater good of Baltimore, but I never say “never.”)

So, I’m drinking the orange Kool Aid for the time being. (Hey, I’m at least sipping from a Dixie cup until Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz get here.)

If Matt Wieters is here to save us all, then I’m the first convertible soul to sign up for the congregation. But it’s going to take more than just rolling the ball onto the field at Camden Yards to change what has been a generation of despair for anyone in this region who loves baseball as much as I do.

Here’s my message to Wieters:

Change the losing culture here in Baltimore, Matt!

Hit .300 and drive in runs. Be a fiery leader and say and do the “right” things here. (In other words, stay away from Aubrey Huff!)

Buy, don’t rent, here in Baltimore and get to know the people and heritage and history of the city. Put a little effort into being special and you’ll get special treatment! And whatever you do, don’t take marketing or human relations advice from Peter Angelos or any of his kin.

We want a hero. We want another Cal or Brooks. We’ve been patient but it’s now all on you. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it goes when you get a $6 million signing bonus and negotiate til the 11th hour and you’re the No. 1 prospect in all of the major leagues according to anyone with a baseball website.

We’ve been waiting a long time for you kid!

I’m not a Wieters beater.

I’m more in line with “Going to bat for Matt!”

Come on up, do your best, make us proud to have “Baltimore” on our chests and give us a fun summer.

After all, if it’s ever going to change here – this sea of ineptitude, mean-spiritedness and arrogance this ownership has wreaked upon Baltimore since 1993 – it has to begin somewhere.

They tell me you’re “The Savior.”

For once — at least — I hope they’re not lying.

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