Tag Archive | "Aubrey Huff"

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Former Oriole Huff retires, will become broadcaster

Posted on 05 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Former Baltimore Oriole Aubrey Huff will retire from baseball and pursue a career in broadcasting, according to a report from MLB Daily Dish.

Huff played for the Birds from 2007-2009, including a 32 homer, 108 RBI season in 2008 where he won his only career Silver Slugger award. Huff was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2009 for pitching prospect Brett Jacobson. His tenure in Charm City was marred by an appearance on the “Bubba The Love Sponge” radio show on SiriusXM where he described Baltimore as a “horse-s**t town“.

Huff went on to win two World Series titles as a member of the San Francisco Giants. He finishes his career as a .278 hitter over 13 seasons with 242 home runs and 904 RBI. Huff last played for the Giants in 2012. According to the report, he will move into a career as a baseball analyst for Pac-12 Networks.

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My bold guarantees for the Major League Baseball season

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Rex Snider

With today’s official kickoff of the Major League Baseball season, I have decided to throw out my personal commemorative first pitch, of sorts. In fact, I’m throwing out SIX PITCHES, in the form of my half-dozen “locks” or guarantees for the upcoming campaign.

Nothing outrageous ….. such as the Pittsburgh Pirates making the playoffs.

Nothing obvious ….. such as the Pittsburgh Pirates missing the playoffs.

AND

Nothing cruel ….. such as being subjected to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But, I do have a solid six hunches regarding the upcoming slate of regular season and postseason action. Will I be wrong? Nope, not a chance …..
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San Francisco Giants – One & Done

The defending World Champions were an aberration, if not a freak of the modern game. Dominant starting pitching, complimented by a stifling closer? Yep. But, the Giants lineup was pasted together with retreads, fill-ins and future contributors. Aubrey Huff led the team, across the board, in offensive production – and he gathered slightly above average numbers.

It won’t happen, again. They will be home when the playoffs begin.

Mr. November Nails 3,000 Hits During A Stellar Season

It’s hard to believe the New York Yankees do not have a member of the 3,000 hit club. As we know, that’s about to change, with Derek Jeter needing just 74 hits to become the 28th member of the prestigious group – and he’ll do it in near record time.

But, my bold guarantee is Jeter reaches his milestone during an impressive “Jeter-like” season, hitting over .300 and serving as a spark plug to the Yankees offense. He’s been written off way too soon.

Gonzalez, Santana & Beckham

No, I am not referring to Adrian, Johan or David. As the 2011 season comes to an end, names like Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Santana and Gordon Beckham will be even more recognizable as the budding stars of the game’s next era. All three of these players will take a GIANT step toward such prominence, this year.

Brewers Prove An Ageless Reality

We’ve witnessed this mistake numerous times over the last 30 years. George Steinbrenner tried it; along with Tom Hicks, Drayton McLane, Gene Autry and a few other owners. Championship-caliber teams can rarely be built, or substantially comprised during a single off-season. But, that’s exactly what Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin are trying, in Milwaukee.

With the certain departure of Prince Fielder, after 2011, the Brewers are ALL IN with additions, such as Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and most recently, the baggage-ridden Nyjer Morgan. Such teams lack continuity and are under an immediate pressure to win, on Opening Day. If they’re not in contention at the trade deadline, most assembled clubs are broken apart.

I expect the Brewers to be “sellers” as August approaches.

Top Rookies Are Not In The Majors

I have absolutely no idea who the American and National League “Rookies Of The Year” will be …. but, I’d be willing to bet neither player starts the season on a big league roster. It’s happened many times and will likely happen, again, in 2011. I suppose this is my way of suggesting some caution on hefty predictions for Jeremy Hellickson, Brandon Belt and Chris Sale.

Hall Of Fame – Class Of 2017 ???

As the 2011 season concludes, Jim Thome and Chipper Jones will officially go on the “Cooperstown Clock”. I’m more optimistic regarding Thome’s impact during the season, but it’s obvious both players are coming to the finish line of superb careers.

Thome will reach 600 homers, which virtually locks him in as a first ballot inductee. I think Jones is a much more debatable candidate. I’m tempted to include Ivan Rodriguez, but I can see him hanging around in 2012, especially if he’s above the 2900 hits plateau.

*** Tomorrow, I will cast a half dozen bold predictions for the Orioles

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A drug user injects heroin in the Russian town of Tver, some 170 km (106 miles) northwest of Moscow, October 3, 2010. Russia is the world

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Things that KILL …..

Posted on 29 October 2010 by Rex Snider

I’ve made no secret about my adoration for the Texas Rangers. I’ve always been a Nolan Ryan fan, and I think their lineup is assembled as solidly as any organization in recent memory. To see that team in a 2-0 hole is mind boggling.

The San Francisco Giants are an aberration. Cody Ross? Aaron Rowand? Juan Uribe? Edgar Renteria? Aubrey Huff? Pat Burrell? Andres Torres? Are you kidding me …..

It’s a HUNGOVER morning in my life and I’m not feeling very affectionate. Thus, I will dedicate the spirit of today’s blog to the Texas Rangers and their pathetic performance through the first couple games of the World Series. Things that KILL …..

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Texas Rangers

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My guaranteed World Series prediction …..

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Rex Snider

On a rainy Wednesday morning, most of Baltimore’s sports fans are taking a collective breath from a successful and equally suspenseful start to the Ravens season. Meanwhile, 2,800 miles away, on the opposite side of the continent, a town is readying for the start of the World Series.

Much to the chagrin of Bud Selig and the upstanding folks at FOX SPORTS, the underdogs have advanced to this year’s fall classic. That’s right, two teams tasked with dethroning last season’s pennant winners slayed the same opponents and advanced to this round of determining Major League Baseball’s World Champion.

Back in April, if you would’ve presented me with a dozen guesses at this season’s matchup for “all the marbles”, I’ll guarantee you there’s ZERO chance I would’ve thrown out the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants. There’s no way I could’ve conceived this series.

Good?

Bad?

Who cares, it’s baseball ….. and it’s not the Yankees or Red Sox.

I like to think I know baseball. I honestly believe I’m a student of the game; I can project a starting lineup for every Major League team and most starting pitchers on respective staffs. That said, I follow the American League even closer than the National League.

I was raised on the 3 run homer and watching the pitcher take a seat between innings. I absolutely LOVE

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Ty Wiggington: Al comeback player of the year?

Posted on 08 September 2010 by Domenic Vadala

Ty Wiggingon has been as valuable to the O’s in 2010 as any player to any other team. In the first third of the season, Wiggy was one of the only rays of blonde sunshine on a team that seemingly had perpetual storm clouds over it’s head. Wiggington was unsure of his status coming out of spring training in that it appeared that Dave Trembley was going to platoon him at various positions (including DH). However with all of the injuries to various players at the very beginning, Wiggington all but guaranteed himself a spot in the lineup in some capacity day in and day out. The running joke with Wiggington coming out of spring training was that he wanted to make it difficult for Dave Trembley to not put him in the lineup. While Wiggington did more than enough to earn his share of playing time, he also proved his worth through his play.

Ironically, if you compare Wiggy’s numbers year-over-year, you get a mixed bag of results. Wiggington’s played in nine more games thus far in 2010 than he did in all of ’09, however that’s also the result of the fact that Aubrey Huff was a Baltimore Oriole last year. Wiggington’s hit better this year, although that’s proportional to the added games and at-bats. While he’s struck out more, he’s also drawn 2o more walks than he did in 2009. His strikeouts are up, but again that also has to do with the fact that that he has more games than last season.

So it seems that his stats aren’t such an imrovement over last year. Then why would I argue that he should be considered for comeback player of the year? As I said, Ty Wiggington was the one ray of sunlight for the Orioles when they were struggling so much at the beginning of the season. Perhaps it wasn’t the number of hits or homers that came off his bat as necessarily as it was when those hits came. As an example, on April 19th Wiggy had a homer and four RBI to lead the Orioles over the Oakland Athletics 8-3, snapping a nine-game losing streak. The next night in Seattle, he hit his third home run in four games, although the O’s lost to Seattle. On May 1st he hit his seventh and eighth homer of the season, helping to lead the Orioles to a 12-9 win over Boston in a donnybrook that was attended by me. The following day he hit a walk off double in the 1oth to give the Orioles a 3-2 win over the Red Sox, and their first series victory of 2010.

Wiggington has always been a solid major leaguer. He was never a superstar or a guy around which you might build your team, however he’s always been solid. He reminds me a lot of former-Oriole Jeff Conine in that he’s always been a consistent hitter, and a better clubhouse guy. The Orioles did most of their big time struggling in April, when they went through and above-referenced stretch where they lost nine of their first ten games. Ty Wiggington finished the first month of the season hitting .308 with six homers and 12 RBI. While he’s fallen back to earth a bit since then (especially in June when he hit .209), he’s been one of the only Orioles that’s consistently produced all season. The key word for me there is consistent, or consistency. Lots of players can be one-hit wonders in that they have their one brief shining moment, only to fade into the sunset after it’s over. Ty Wiggington has always been a consistent player that’s consistently produced for hs team.

So again, why should he be considered for comeback player of the year? What has he had to come back from? If Wiggy’s not to get this award, that’s probably the reason why he wouldn’t qualify. Last season he hit .272, which is hardly a shabby year. However I would also submit that he wasn’t brought to Baltimore to have the role that he’s seen He was brought here to be a platoon player at various positions, perhaps at times only playing for three days or so each week. He’s done that and then some. Although he wasn’t injured or miss any signifigant time during the season, he has outdone himself and what the Orioles wanted for him when they brought him in.

Admittedly I probably didn’t make the case for Wiggington very well in this column. Basically all I outlined was a guy that stepped in and performed admirably when his team needed him. However as bad as the Orioles were during that stretch of time, imagine where they would have been without  Ty Wiggington. It’s my understanding that Wiggy wants to return to the Orioles in 2011. My only question would be why the Orioles haven’t gotten a deal done to this point? He seems like a great teammate, good clubhouse guy, and a consistent player. How can you go wrong?

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Huff hitting, fielding in San Francisco

Posted on 15 June 2010 by Jay Trucker

The Orioles continued their earth-shatteringly awful season a 10-2 loss in the early morning hours Tuesday. Now is probably not the time to talk about Aubrey Huff. Yet, the faithful few who tuned in to the late night horror show in the Bay Area Monday night saw Huff, sitting in the four spot, with his .302 average, his 10 home runs, his 14 doubles, and his .394 OBP.

Garrett Atkins’ numbers? Prepare yourself. This is NSFW

.216/.276 with 1 home run.

Don’t get me wrong. Huff, no stranger to controversy during his nearly three years here in horse**** Baltimore, had come to the end of an up and down three year tenure here, and as the season ended, it looked like it was time to turn the page for both he and the team.

But then the Orioles went out and signed Garrett Atkins, whose numbers had been on the slide for three seasons, and who was being asked to play first base, a position meant to generate power. The move was particularly perplexing because it came early in the offseason, before the market “played out.”

Aubrey Huff is making $3 million dollars to play in San Fran.

Garrett Atkins is making $4.5 million dollars, mostly to sit on the bench in Baltimore,

AND the Orioles will have to hand him another $500,000 to buy out of his option for 2011.

And while Atkins has been splitting time between first base and the bench, Huff has shown his versatility, vacating first base to make room for hefty Pablo Sandoval. Huff has played third base, left, and even right field.

And so, while the Orioles were forced to sign Corey Patterson off of the scrap heap, Huff has shown that he can still wear an outfielders’ glove.

By all accounts, Huff’s exit from Baltimore was a gracious one. He was traded to Detroit in August of ’09 in exchange for a pile of beans, and he had a number of positive things to say about the team’s young core of players while packing his bags. Were the team looking into an upgrade, or even a younger player with potential to evolve, then closing the door on Huff for good would have made perfect sense. Instead, the Orioles said goodbye to a player who, even in his bad years, hit the ball hard. In exchange, they paid more for a guy on the decline who appears to be unable to see the ball or drive it with any authority on the off chance he gets a hold of one.

Which scout or scouts told the Orioles organization they’d better grab Garrett Atkins early in the hot stove season before some other team takes him away? As the managerial search threatens to continue through the duration of this painful season, it’s time to wonder who, if anyone, is being held accountable in the Orioles front office?

Meanwhile, congratulations to Aubrey Huff, whose San Francisco Giants are 36-27 and a half game out of first in the NL West, no small thanks to the versatility of their hard-hitting, inexpensive cleanup hitter.

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The Orioles & Andy MacPhail - 5 Mistakes In 3 Years (Part I of V) .....

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The Orioles & Andy MacPhail – 5 Mistakes In 3 Years (Part I of V) …..

Posted on 14 April 2010 by Rex Snider

I can honestly proclaim my fair and balanced treatment of Andy MacPhail, since the day he seized control of the Orioles’ Baseball Operations.

Okay, I haven’t necessarily been an ORANGE KOOL-AID drinkin’ son of a gun, but I’ve certainly been heavy on the patience and guarded praise, while leveling mild criticism on justified, sporadic occasions. In fact, I absolutely believe I’ve given Mr. MacPhail the benefit of the doubt on many occasions – and, I don’t regret it.

Has he made mistakes? Sure. But, I’ve maintained his decisions were in the best interest of the Orioles franchise – and the greater good of Baltimore’s vulnerable baseball fans.

Yet, I think it’s also fair to say Andy MacPhail and the Orioles, as an organization, have fallen short on numerous decisions and transactions, over these last 3 seasons.

I’m not beating them up. That’s not productive. However, I can think of 5 distinguishing events, moves or directives that have resulted in a LOSS for the Orioles. Of course, I’ll qualify my opinions by asserting my FAN CARD …..

I have absolutely no working knowledge or experience concerning the inner-sanctum of a professional baseball organization. I’ve never stuck my hands inside a baseball product ABOVE the college level. And, I think this disclosure is important, because nearly everyone who stands in my shoes (from a media perspective) is also standing on the “same ground.”

That said, I’d like to believe I’m an educated guy and open-minded regarding most topics.

Baseball is one such topic. I love the science of baseball ….. the history of baseball ….. the modern day culture of baseball ….. and, the game as a whole.

Agree with me. Disagree with me. I understand – and, I don’t take it personally.

My first observed/recalled “MacPhail Mistake” can be found below. I’ll write 5 such blogs over the next 5 days. Of course, I reserve judgement to include a 6th mistake if this losing streak doesn’t end soon …..

Mistake #1  –  Letting Joe Girardi Get Away

One of Andy MacPhail’s first decisions was finding a successor to Sam Perlozzo, who was dismissed in the same window that allowed MacPhail’s entrance as the new President of Baseball Operations. While Dave Trembley was named as the interim skipper, MacPhail conducted a thorough search and even levied a firm three year offer to his most coveted candidate.

Of course, EVERYONE knew Andy MacPhail had a solid relationship with Joe Girardi. And, Girardi, who owned the distinction of winning “NL Manager Of The Year” and being fired after the same season was readily available …..
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No, Joe Girardi didn’t get fired for legal or character reasons. He’s a SOLID CHARACTER guy. He was fired by an owner who didn’t like being told to “SHUT UP.” While most employees would get fired for saying such a thing to their boss, lets remember, Jeffrey Luria was heckling the umpire when it happened. And, Joe Girardi does things the right way.

Never mind the task of taking a young, disorganized group of kids and instilling discipline and a WINNING attitude, in less than six months. That’s not important to Jeffrey Luria. Hmmm …. I wonder if he feels good about firing Girardi – TODAY.

Nevertheless, Joe Girardi was Andy MacPhail’s GUY.

In fact, MacPhail and others flew to Girardi’s neck of the woods, near Chicago, to woo and tempt the hottest managerial free agent. When is the last time a TEAM went to the CANDIDATE to conduct an interview?

Days later – on June 21st of 2007 – Joe Girardi told Andy and the O’s “uhh, thanks …. but, no thanks.”

That’s a day I’ll never forget. Why? It’s this girl’s birthday …..
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And, regardless of Joe Girardi falling thru the holes of the Orioles crab net, I’d better never forget the significance of June 21st – ANY YEAR.

Why did Joe Girardi decline the Orioles offer to become the next manager? Of course, I’ll rely on my earlier disclosure – I have no working knowledge of the Orioles inner circle. But, I can imagine or make an educated guess of some possible reasons.

Maybe, he talked with some baseball friends, who have intimate knowledge of the Orioles dysfunction, prior to MacPhail’s arrival. Who? Perhaps, he had coffee with Davey Johnson. Maybe, he had dinner with his former coach, Lee Mazilli. Better yet, I guess he could’ve just had a very long phone conversation with George, Hank or Hal Steinbrenner.

But, something made Joe Girardi reject the Orioles 3 year/$3 million offer. Heck, maybe that’s it.

I realize most managers aren’t breaking the bank with contracts in the same neighborhood as many players. Yet, if a manager with any resume’ of success is going to soil his career with a stint on the Orioles bench, I’ll assume the money will have to do the talking – not a bunch of bigwigs flying into the guy’s hometown.

If Andy MacPhail was serious about hiring Joe Girardi as the next skipper, and he flew 750 miles to meet with him, I’d like to think he had the company checkbook in hand.

What’s the one thing we know about today’s world of pro sports and signing free agents? If you want the guy, don’t let him leave the room without a deal. Do you doubt me? This philosophy brought the Baltimore Ravens a Super Bowl winning head coach …..
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It also landed the Chicago White Sox one of the hottest managerial prospects, following the Florida Marlins 2003 World Championship …..
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And, as the we know, he skippered the team to a World Championship, just a couple seasons later.

Andy MacPhail should’ve never let Joe Girardi leave that meeting – not if he was the guy. And, how does an offer like $3 million, in 3 years, inspire a guy of Girardi’s caliber to take this job? I’m not talking about the Joe Girardi who manages the New York Yankees. I’m talking about the Joe Girardi who broke the disruptive spirit of players who initially balked at his managerial powers, in the Marlins clubhouse.

As many know, I’m a devout listener of the Comcast Morning Show. I was listening to Drew before I knew where the WNST station was located. He makes sense ….. and he’s right on many occasions.

Recently, Drew has pointed out the lackluster and non-chalant attitude of Adam Jones. Whether it’s blowing bubbles on dropped flyballs or stupid baserunning blunders, Jones doesn’t seem to be busting his hump or devoting maximum concentration to the game itself.

And, as Drew has also suggested …. what can Dave Trembley do about it? Counsel Jones? Bench him? Fine him?

Adam Jones has every hunch to assume his manager is just one banana peel OR LOSS away from being a former employee. If such exchanges or relationships exist, would any of us be surprised?

Now, put Joe Girardi in that clubhouse and dugout.

Does Adam Jones or anyone challenge him? If they do, they’ll lose. Just ask Miguel Cabrera. He balked at Girardi’s policies regarding junk food in the clubhouse and locker room. Girardi didn’t bend his rules – and Cabrera didn’t bring skittles to the ballpark.

Marlins players had every reason to dismiss Jor Girardi, as the season neared an end. Everyone knew the manager was getting fired and the team had a losing record. That said, those players respected him and they played hard. The Marlins opened the 2006 season with SIX ROOKIES in the lineup and a $14 million payroll. Okay, some sources have the payroll as high as $21 million – but, I’m certain you get the point.

Joe Girardi was fired, because the owner didn’t like him.

You gotta have that guy, right? He doesn’t tolerate off-field distractions. He doesn’t permit lackluster performances. And, he always protects him team …..
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But, if MacPhail wanted the guy, why offer a measly 3 million bucks? I’ve always wondered if things would’ve turned out differently if Andy slid a blank check across the table, in Chicago. My gut says YES. My head says YES.

I’ll imagine Joe Girardi had enough time to look at the $3 million offer and consider the Orioles plight, as well as the recent history regarding managers. I’ll conclude that he probably thought …. “in a few seasons, OR LESS, I’ll have a few million bucks in my pocket, but I’ll also be that guy who’s possibly been fired from two jobs, in less than 5 years.” “I don’t mind the risk, but it’s not enough money – not near enough money.”

He probably reasoned the Orioles job could ruin him, as far as future managerial prospects go. If that’s the case, the reward had to be greater.

In case “Franchise” is reading this, I don’t see Joe Girardi as a “what if” kinda guy. He rejected the Orioles halfway thru the 2007 season. He had no reason to believe he was going to be the Yankees new manager, just a few months later.

Yeah, we all heard that Girardi or Don Mattingly would eventually succeed Joe Torre, as Yankees skipper. But, if the Yankees would’ve beaten the Cleveland Indians and BUGS, in the 2007 ALDS, we might’ve never seen a managerial change.
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After all, Joe Torre turned down a one year extension.

Joe Girardi rejected the Orioles, because it wasn’t enough money for such a risky gamble. Who wants to hire a former Orioles manager?

Maybe Joe Girardi would’ve taken the O’s job for 3 years/$10 million. But, that’s an extra $7 million – which means the Orioles couldn’t afford Aubrey Huff. Umm …. make that TWO Aubrey Huffs.

A note to Andy ….. Ozzie Guillen is a free agent, following the 2012 season. If you’re gonna offer 3 years/$3 million, don’t waste his time or yours.

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Gonzalez quickly sculpting unnerving image in Baltimore

Posted on 09 April 2010 by Luke Jones

If we can take anything from the opening series of the 2010 season, we know it’s going to be interesting in the final inning.

Unnerving.

Agonizing.

Hold on for dear life.

New closer Mike Gonzalez atoned for his Opening Night debacle by preserving the first win of the season Thursday night, but the performance was anything but routine in the Orioles’ 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay.

After striking out the first two batters of the ninth and appearing poised to retire the side in order, Gonzalez loaded the bases before finally enticing Ben Zobrist to fly out to right, thankfully ending a 26-pitch, 12-strike inning as Orioles fans finally breathed a sigh of relief and somewhere Earl Weaver burned through an entire pack of cigarettes. At least that’s the rumor.

Gonzalez made it very clear he was anxious to return to the mound following his blown save on Tuesday night, and to his credit, he got the job done, but it couldn’t have been any shakier. It’s quickly becoming pretty apparent why few teams were beating down Gonzalez’s door last December to sign him up as their fireman.

With just 54 career saves, Gonzalez had rarely been used as a primary closer in his first seven seasons in the big leagues. The 31-year-old lefty went 10-for-17 in save opportunities for the Braves last season and had saved no more than 24 (2006 with Pittsburgh) in any season.

But it was enough for Andy MacPhail to ink Gonzalez to a two-year, $12 million contract, designating him the replacement for George Sherrill and ending the short-lived Jim Johnson experiment at closer.

Gonzalez battled tightness in his back and hesitated to go all out in his spring outings, insisting he would be in top form for the regular season. You have to wonder how much that’s impacted his shaky start. For better or worse, Gonzalez is Dave Trembley’s closer. There is no other viable option in the bullpen.

The Orioles will live and die in the ninth inning as violently as Gonzalez delivers his fastball.

Few players have made such an impression—good or bad—in their first two appearances as an Oriole. It’s scary to think what the crowd’s reaction might have been at Camden Yards on Friday had he blown a second straight save and the 0-3 Orioles limped home to Baltimore for the home opener.

I’m guessing Aubrey Huff probably would have placed a call from San Francisco to offer moral support—hopefully without sharing his thoughts on the city.

But Gonzalez nailed down the victory, protecting Brian Matusz’ first victory of the season and allowing the Orioles to return home feeling better about themselves after the disappointment of dropping two winnable games against the Rays.

There’s no doubting his talent—chaotic mechanics and all—and a 2.63 career ERA shows he’s had plenty of success at the big-league level. Even Sherrill came to the Orioles as a little-known setup man with four career saves before becoming an All-Star closer.

In fact, when you look at the franchise’s history of closers, Gonzalez’s early tightrope act fits right in with a plethora of characters.

Don Stanhouse didn’t earn the nickname Fullpack for 1-2-3 innings but still managed to make the 1979 All-Star team.

Randy Myers may have set a club record for saves in 1997, but anyone following his career knows it wasn’t a Myers outing unless at least one man reached base in the process.

And Sherrill’s two seasons were anything but routine as he racked up 51 saves in two years for the Orioles before being dealt to the Dodgers last summer.

However, Armando Benitez, Mike Timlin, and Jorge Julio sit on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Need I say more?

It’s too soon to determine into which camp Gonzalez will ultimately settle, but the early return suggests fans might want to stock up on the Rolaids and Pepto-Bismol—or maybe something stronger—this summer.

At the very least, he should keep things entertaining.

***Don’t forget WNST.net is your source for Opening Day coverage as I’ll be at Camden Yards for all Opening Day festivities. Follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and join us every game for our Orange Crush live chat to talk Baltimore baseball.***

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3rd Day Of Christmas .....

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3rd Day Of Christmas …..

Posted on 18 December 2009 by Rex Snider

It’s my “3rd Day Of Christmas” blog – and it’s time for a PARTY …..

That’s right, this blog is devoted to the perfect Christmas party. If I was hosting the PERFECT PARTY, there would be alot of considerations :

Who would I invite …..

Who would emcee …..

Who would provide entertainment …..

What would we eat …..

What would we drink …..

This is a “Pie In The Sky” concept – no restrictions (exception – everyone is ALIVE), no budgets, no problems. Got it ???

Well, here ya go – on this “3rd Day Of Christmas,” we’re celebrating with Rex Snider’s Christmas Party …..

Master Of Ceremonies

Billy Bob Thornton – He’s the logical choice. Billy is a sports fan and he has a habit for truly speaking his mind, which I tend to like. And, I’m not inviting his ex-wife, because I don’t think she’s very attractive …..
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Entertainment

Stephen Marley – The second son of Bob Marley, Stephen is my favorite member of the Melody Makers. I’d like his Caribbean touch to the party’s musical lineup.
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Elton John – Is there a better musician to lead everyone thru a sing-a-long to some great Christmas songs?
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Motley Crue – I’m not stupid ….. where there’s CRUE, there’s WOMEN. And, I want Ray Bachmann to show up.
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Van Halen – Of course, Van Halen’s headlining the party !!!! It’s MY party ….. and I want Bob Haynie to show up …..
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Bartender

Tommy Lee – Remember, he’s already gonna be here !!!! Can you imagine trying to keep Tommy from drinking the product?
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Cocktail Waitresses



Jessica Simpson & Tiger’s Girls
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Guests

Well, every single WNST listener is invited – provided you wear one of these …..




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Special Invited Guests (By Table)
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Living Legends Table






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Movers & Shakers Table






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MVP Table





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Disgraced Table






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Trainwreck Table






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FOR Table (FOR = Friends Of Rex)






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Bathroom Table (Yep, They’re Sitting In The Crapper)






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Now, that’s a PARTY !!!!

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So long, Melvin, and hold your head up

Posted on 30 September 2009 by Luke Jones

As the Orioles fall toward the 100-loss mark with seemingly little resistance over the final week of the season, their elder statesman winds down his 10-year stay with an organization fixed in what feels like an endless era of losing.

Melvin Mora arrived in the Charm City after being traded with three others from the New York Mets for shortstop Mike Bordick in Syd Thrift’s infamous fire sale of 2000.  The 28-year old utility player was coming to a struggling team with a future Hall of Famer (Cal Ripken) winding down his career and its best hitter (Albert Belle) only months away from retirement due to a degenerative hip condition.  The Orioles were completing their third-straight losing season in 2000. Change was needed.

Mora’s addition, along with the 13 others acquired in the five summer deals, would pump youthful energy into an aging organization and eventually bring the Orioles back to where they belonged at the top of the standings, right?

If only.

Of course, we all know the story. Despite the quantity of players coming to the organization for veterans such as Bordick, Charles Johnson, B.J. Surhoff, and Harold Baines, Mora would be the only acquisition to contribute beyond the next couple seasons. Most would never contribute at all.

Mora debuted with the team as a role player on an 88-loss club and will take his final bow this weekend on a club trying to avoid becoming the third team to lose 100 games in the 56-year history of the franchise (1954 and 1988 were the others). In his 10 years, the Orioles averaged 92 losses a year, finished in fourth place seven times, and landed in the basement twice—one of those this year.

He played for four different managers, five different general managers (or whatever the organization was calling the job at the time), and saw the beautiful Oriole Park at Camden Yards transform from one of the chic places to be (3.1 million fans in 2000) on a summer night to a mostly desolate palace (less than 2 million fans in 2009) infiltrated by Boston and New York fans 18 times a year.

During Mora’s 10-year stay in the Charm City, the Orioles finished in third only once (2004), but the high-water mark came in the early stages of 2005.

The Orioles enjoyed a two-month reign at the top of the American League East, and the long rebuilding process appeared to be on the right track. However, Mora saw his team collapse in the second half with a disgraced teammate’s steroid suspension (Rafael Palmeiro), injuries, and management’s failure to improve the team down the stretch (trading Larry Bigbie for Eric Byrnes is going to get you over the hump?).

Needless to say, Mora has had little to smile about in his 10 years with the Orioles. You almost have to feel sorry for the guy.

As he is resigned to the reality of this almost certainly being his last season in Baltimore (the club will not use a $8 million club option for 2010), people will overstate the importance of his disappointing 2009 season—at age 37, mind you—and his mid-summer spat with Dave Trembley when judging his 10 years as an Oriole.

His disappointing final season cannot—and should not—shortchange his accomplishments playing in an absolutely miserable era of Orioles baseball.

The super-utility player that came to Baltimore flashing the leather at a variety of positions—left field, center field, and shortstop to name a few—steadily improved his game and eventually became an All Star, albeit for a bad club needing a representative in 2003. Mora would earn a second trip to the Midsummer Classic in 2005.

Ironically, Mora was excluded from the All-Star squad in 2004 despite being the best third baseman in baseball that season. Yes, before you ask, better than that guy wearing pinstripes in the Bronx.

It was the best season of his career and one of the finest seasons ever by an Oriole.  His .340 average was, and still is, the best single-season clip in club history. Mora also led the American League with a .419 on-base percentage and finished in the AL’s top 10 in batting average (behind only Ichiro Suzuki), slugging percentage, runs, hits, total bases, and doubles. His play earned him the Silver Slugger award (awarded to the best offensive player at each position) and solidified his status as an everyday player.

While Mora would never approach his tremendous 2004 numbers again, he would continue to provide solid numbers and steady defense in his remaining years in Baltimore, even throwing in an amazing second half of the 2008 season for good measure.

Regardless of the sour aftertaste created by his 2009 campaign, Mora is unquestionably an Orioles Hall of Famer, ranking in the franchise’s career top 10 in home runs, hits, doubles, runs batted in, and runs. And with apologies to Doug DeCinces’ fans, Mora may rank as the second-best third baseman in club history (The 1979 hero’s best years came with the California Angels).

Perhaps more important than his diamond achievements when pondering his legacy in Baltimore is the fact that Mora truly embraced the Charm City and adopted it as his home. Mora and his wife Gisel had their famed quintuplets in Baltimore—and chose to raise their six children right here.

While nearly every Oriole of the past decade waved goodbye to the city at the end of September and didn’t return until the new baseball season in April, Mora and his family stayed in Fallston—and plan to continue doing so.

Others wanted little to do with the community or even went as far as to demean the city (Aubrey Huff), but Mora thought highly enough of it to make it his home.

Make no mistake, the organization treated Mora very well financially (probably too well), but he understood the importance of sharing that good fortune with the local community through various charitable endeavors.

Simply put, Mora got “it.”

It’s an idea not to be taken for granted in this modern age of so many high-paid mercenaries completely void of any pride, philanthropy, or connection for the city in which they play.

Mora’s role in the community was never more apparent than in late-December 2005. Longtime bullpen coach and leading community ambassador Elrod Hendricks had passed away just a few days shy of Christmas, yet Mora was the only active Oriole to attend the coach’s funeral on December 29.

It was more an indictment on the sorry state of the organization than a tremendous gesture, but at least Mora WAS there. It was something the 24 others could not say, regardless of the pathetic excuses claiming it was too close to the holidays.

As an Orioles fan, I chastised the missing players but also appreciated Mora being there to represent the current team, pathetic as it was. Mora understood not only what Hendricks meant to the organization but to the entire city.

One might say it doesn’t take much effort to embrace the local community, so why such praise for Mora? He was being paid millions, right?

Well, easy as it might be, he was one of the few to care enough to actually do it.

Even in his final weeks with the Orioles, Mora demonstrated one more example of understanding what it means to be a Baltimorean. When learning the organization planned to honor him for playing the second-most games at third base in franchise history, Mora requested the man ahead of him on the list, Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, to be present.

So, despite little publicity or fanfare (a different issue entirely), Mr. Oriole was there to celebrate the accomplishment with the Orioles’ current third baseman. Who knows if Mora can tell you how many Gold Gloves Robinson won at the hot corner or what year he even retired, but he knew enough to understand Brooks needed to be there. That’s saying something.

Unlike Brooksie, who played a large portion of his career in the Orioles’ glory days, Mora is likely to be remembered as the figurehead—along with another good player and nice guy, Brian Roberts—for the franchise’s miserable era of losing baseball that is yet to end here at the conclusion of the 2009 season.

“Mora had to stink, or the Orioles would have won while he was here, right?”

But let’s admit, save for the infancy of his career and a two-year window of fantasy baseball in 1996 and 1997, Ripken didn’t exactly play in the Orioles’ glory years either.

The truth is though Mora certainly wasn’t the type of player that could carry a winning team by himself, he also wasn’t the reason the team stunk for the decade he was with the organization. In his best years, Mora undoubtedly would have been a valuable member of a contending club.

No one will suggest that Mora belongs in the same stratosphere as the Orioles’ royalty of the Robinsons, Ripken, Palmer, and Murray. Not even close.

And even the casual fan would never confuse his baserunning prowess with the legendary Rickey Henderson, or even Willie “Mays” Hayes for that matter.

Mora may not have always said the right thing, but he was occasionally willing to speak up in a way so many frustrated fans could admire. His declaration that some Orioles didn’t know what it took to win in 2007 and his famed “Who is going to pitch for us?” query in 2005 may have ruffled some feathers in the Warehouse, but it was music to the ears of fans wanting a terrible organization to take accountability.

Ultimately, Mora should be remembered as a good player and one of the few to perform admirably through a miserable period of Orioles baseball.

He represented the city with pride and is one of the few I felt proud to cheer over the last decade.

So long, Melvin, but we’ll see you around town.

It’s a shame we didn’t have much fun at the ballpark.

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