Rough Start For The Tex-Era

April 09, 2009 | Thyrl Nelson

It May Be Too Early To Panic Over His 1-for-9 Start, But Teixeira’s Comments In The Media Suggest That He May Struggle With That End Of Things, Especially In New York.


The Teixeira era is off to a rousing start with the New York Yankees, as he’ll try to shake off a 1-for-9 slump this afternoon, while the Yankees attempt to avoid an 0-3 start to their otherwise hopeful season. In addition to struggling with the bat, Teixeira has also seemed to struggle with simple interviews since arriving in New York, which may prove to be as much of a hindrance to his success there as anything he may or may not do on the field. And in doing so, Teixeira may have also lit the fire under O’s fans that has been missing since long before this current string of futility, or even the Angelos era itself even began.


Whether you agree with the treatment that Teixeira has received at the hands of O’s fans over the past few days or not, it’s clear that his situation has struck a nerve with the fan base. And although the national media seems to have missed the boat on the fans’ motivation, I’d guess that they’ll figure it out for themselves quickly enough. While the national media is content to settle for the obvious angle, that O’s fans felt entitled to their hometown hero and have lashed out at being spurned by him, the fans that I have spoken to haven’t seemed to endorse that theory at all. In fact, it’s safe to say that most of us, if put in his situation, would have made the same decision, and are willing to concede that. What seems to be sticking in the collective crawl of most O’s fans are the ridiculous and seemingly pandering statements that he’s made at seemingly every opportunity, regarding his free agency and ultimate choice, since signing.


The simple truth is, outside of the O’s fan base, there are few who will recall all of the times that Teixeira mentioned Baltimore as a possible dream destination in the months and even years leading up to this off season. Few, outside of Baltimore, will care enough to compare the comments that he makes from one interview to another, seemingly in an attempt to appease whatever audience his message is intended to reach. And that’s with good reason, it’s because no one outside of Baltimore really cared whether he wound up here one way or another.


What we, as O’s fans have seen though, and what I expect that the national media will also figure out quickly enough too, is that in attempting to pander to his audience, Teixeira comes off as being somewhat less than genuine. His new teammate, Alex Rodriguez probably could teach him a thing or two about that subject, although Rodriguez himself doesn’t appear to have figured it out just yet either. Still, it’s tough to imagine this routine flying in New York for very long. It took a while before they caught on to A-Rod, and since Teixeira has yet to say anything of real interest to the New York media at this juncture, it may take a while before they figure him out too. But O’s fans have seen it, and I suspect that before long, others will begin to catch on as well. If he continues to hit .111, being considered disingenuous will be the least of his worries anyway.


As an aficionado of Yankee history, surely Teixeira knows that neither the fans, the media, nor the ownership there have much regard for those who fail to live up to expectations. And as with A-Rod, sometimes even putting up MVP seasons isn’t enough to make one a “true Yankee”. The early returns are in, and I mean very early, but my guess is that it won’t be long before Teixeira, the Yankees, or both are wishing that they had this off season back.


As for the O’s, they’ve certainly benefited from the comments that Teixeira has made in the wake of his free agent signing. Any ill will that the fans may have had toward Andy MacPhail and the O’s for their efforts in trying to sign him, was quickly forgotten once Tex began throwing daggers at the hearts of O’s fans at his press conference. And with each subsequent attempt to clarify his statements, Teixeira seems only to raise fans ire toward him even more.


The end result? Well, we have 8 years to see what that will be. But the immediate result, of the sum of Teixeira’s collective actions, is that the passion is back at Camden Yards. Some might even say that the passion has finally reached Camden Yards, as the football crowd appears to have arrived.


That football crowd after all, only had baseball to enjoy at their defacto shrine on 33rd Street, for 9 seasons before it was closed for Oriole Park. And 7 of those 9 seasons were basically miserable. Yet it was a great time to be at the ballpark. With Oriole Park came the proverbial wine and cheese crowd, keeping the “real fans” at home. And once tickets became more easily available, the team was in disarray, and the football crowd was back to spending their money on football. But Mark Teixeira may have inadvertently brought them back.


Readily available seats and the departure the wine and cheese crowd couldn’t bring back that fire. The departure of Mike Mussina, the dumb statements by Aubrey Huff, the arrival of Albert Belle, Miguel Tejada, or Sammy Sosa, the takeover annually staged by Yankee and Red Sox fans at our stadium never brought it back. Even the remarkable game plan being executed by Andy MacPhail in front of our eyes and the arrival and pending arrivals of a number of promising youngsters couldn’t get the fans ignited like they were on Monday, to voice their displeasure at Mark Teixeira.


Bush league or not, I was proud to see O’s fans passionate about something, anything for a change. I was proud of the noise that we made, as the lead on most of the highlight shows that night. And I’m mostly glad to see that the football crowd, the old 33rd street baseball crowd, has also made their way to Camden Yards and gotten behind this team.


In Baltimore, we love one syllable names, especially with long E’s. So far, the biggest problem with Joe Flacco seems to be that he doesn’t have a name or nickname that fans can yell out in unison to make their presence and approval known, like Reed or Heap. The 1:35 start, while also football like, should be a detriment to attendance for the finale today, but those who do get there should have a good time. Hopefully be the end, we’ll be hearing a familiar sound, with a baseball twist. The football crowd in Baltimore, after all, must be dying to yell “SWEEEEEEEEP!!!”.