Tag Archive | "Jim Palmer"

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Twelve Orioles thoughts on Mussina’s Hall of Fame election

Posted on 23 January 2019 by Luke Jones

With former Orioles great Mike Mussina finally being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. My only memory of Jim Palmer’s career was his short-lived comeback attempt in 1991, but nights when Mussina pitched inspired as much confidence about winning as you could have. Since Mussina’s 47.8 wins above replacement accumulated in Baltimore, the best Orioles pitcher WAR has been Jeremy Guthrie at 16.2.

2. I remember Mussina’s debut like it was yesterday as he lost 1-0 to the White Sox despite allowing only one run in 7 2/3 innings. That came on a homer by Frank Thomas, who wore out the right-hander throughout his career. You could tell Mussina was going to be good.

3. I rushed home from my own baseball game to watch the final innings of his near-perfect game against Cleveland in 1997 before Sandy Alomar singled with one out in the ninth. Four years later, thoughts were more conflicted as he was a strike away from perfection before falling short again.

4. Anyone who followed Mussina’s final few years in Baltimore couldn’t objectively fault him for leaving after being low-balled by Peter Angelos, but that didn’t make it any easier watching him pitch for the hated Yankees in the following years. To still hold a grudge, however, seems silly to me.

5. The debate over which cap Mussina should wear on his plaque makes for spirited discussion, but it shouldn’t impact how the Orioles honor him. That would be as weird as the tradition of there never being a unanimous Hall of Fame selection until Mariano Rivera on Tuesday.

6. Had Mussina won a World Series with the Yankees, it would have been tough not to compare his career path to that of Frank Robinson, who spent 10 seasons with Cincinnati before winning two championships and two other pennants with the Orioles. I’ll predict a blank cap for Mussina’s plaque.

7. Deciding how to honor Mussina is tricky since he never returned like Eddie Murray and didn’t win a World Series here. My preference would be the Orioles retiring his No. 35 while saving statues for Hall of Famers who also won a championship. It’s awkward, but still a distinct honor.

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8. In addition to his pitching excellence, Mussina won seven Gold Gloves, which is tied for fifth most among pitchers. He was also very good controlling the running game as 39 percent of base stealers were gunned down compared to the league average of 31 percent during his career.

9. It’s pretty remarkable that Mussina will be inducted in the same year as three former teammates: Rivera, Lee Smith, and Harold Baines. I can’t imagine that’s happened too often over the years.

10. I honestly wasn’t as sure about Mussina deserving to be in Cooperstown until I began embracing analytics and context-based statistics several years ago. As others have said, his election is a win for sabermetrics after he hovered below 25 percent of the vote in his first two years of eligibility.

11. Growing up, I spent countless afternoons in the backyard trying to throw Mussina’s knuckle-curve and imitate the pronounced way he’d bend at the waist from the stretch. Needless to say, I wasn’t very successful, but he was a treat to watch for a long time.

12. If the Baseball Hall of Fame had a sense of humor, Cito Gaston would be asked to introduce Mussina and would instead announce Duane Ward. Still too soon? No matter the circumstances, Mussina not pitching in the 1993 All-Star Game at Camden Yards was just wrong.

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Mussina finally moves out of shadows and into Cooperstown

Posted on 22 January 2019 by Luke Jones

Mike Mussina pitched in the shadows throughout his brilliant career.

As great as he was in Baltimore for a decade, he wasn’t Jim Palmer and naturally played second fiddle to legendary teammate Cal Ripken. Mussina thrived in the Bronx while Roger Clemens and the homegrown Andy Pettitte received more praise and adoration. Arguably three of the 10 best pitchers of all time — Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux — along with a top 20-caliber hurler in Pedro Martinez dominated the era in which Mussina pitched.

He was never the best pitcher in the game and lacked the pinnacle achievements typically associated with Cooperstown, but perseverance and statistical enlightenment have helped the former Orioles great finally take his rightful place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It was an outcome that appeared unlikely even a few years ago when Mussina received just 20.3 percent of the required 75 percent of Hall of Fame votes in 2014, his first year of eligibility. His 270 career wins appeared to satisfy a traditional standard — only three post-1900 pitchers with more victories have failed to be elected — and his 2,813 strikeouts rank 20th all time, but the lack of a Cy Young Award or a World Series championship as well as only one 20-win season left Mussina lacking in the minds of many traditional voters. A deeper look at the context of his career and the growing acceptance of sabermetrics, however, have brought greater appreciation for the five-time All-Star selection and seven-time Gold Glove winner.

It was a fitting progression for a pitching intellect rarely appreciated as much as he should have been over the course of his career.

His 82.9 career wins above replacement rank 23rd on the all-time list for pitchers with Clemens being the only one with a greater total not to be elected. Mussina ranked among the league’s top five pitchers in WAR seven times — leading that category in 2001 — and was in the top 10 an additional four times in his career, illustrating the longevity of his excellence despite not having an overwhelming career peak.

Mussina’s 3.68 career earned run average doesn’t scream “Cooperstown” at first glance — though Hall of Famers Jack Morris and Red Ruffing have higher marks — but what about accounting for the lucrative run-scoring environment of the steroid era as well as pitching his entire career in the American League East with its hitter-friendly ballparks? Mussina’s adjusted ERA (ERA+) of 123 meant his ERA was 23 percent better than the major league average during his career when adjusting for ballpark and opponent. In comparison, Palmer’s career 125 ERA+ meant his 2.86 career ERA was 25 percent better than the league average as he pitched in a much stingier run-scoring environment from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Mussina’s adjusted ERA is tied for 30th among starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame.

We’ve always known — or should have, anyway — context matters when trying to compare players of different eras, and advanced statistics are giving us the means to do that more accurately, allowing us to see more clearly that Mussina belonged in the Hall of Fame.

Even after leaving the Orioles for the New York Yankees in 2001, Mussina never did win a World Series ring, but his 3.42 ERA in 139 2/3 playoff innings reflects a pitcher usually at his best when the games mattered most. Who could forget his 1997 postseason in which he registered a 1.24 ERA and a whopping 41 strikeouts in 29 innings? It wasn’t his fault the Orioles scored a total of one run in his two brilliants starts against Cleveland in that heartbreaking AL Championship Series. According to FanGraphs’ Jay Jaffe, Mussina received just 3.1 runs per game in his 23 career postseason appearances with Baltimore and New York.

So much of Mussina’s career will be remembered for how excruciatingly close he came to reaching historic feats. He never pitched a no-hitter, but he was two outs away from a perfect game against the Indians in 1997 before Sandy Alomar singled to left field, leaving Mussina with a one-hit shutout. Four years later pitching for the Yankees at Fenway Park, he experienced an even crueler fate being one strike away from perfection before pinch hitter Carl Everett’s single into left.

A 39-year-old Mussina finally won 20 games in his last season in 2008, but he’d won 16 and 19 games, respectively, in the strike-shortened seasons of 1994 and 1995. He missed out on his 20th victory in the penultimate game of the 1996 season when Armando Benitez gave up the game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in Toronto. Those near-misses should count for something when evaluating a pitcher who performed at such a high level for a long period of time against someone else with a shorter period of excellence.

As we move further away from the days when 300-win careers and complete games were benchmarks of greatness, Mussina’s body of work will look better and better. Though often criticized during his career for not finishing contests as observers reminisced about Palmer’s remarkable 211 complete games, Mussina still averaged four complete games over his 162-game average, twice as many as the major league leader in 2018. He finished second in Cy Young voting only once, but eight other top-six finishes speak to how long he was an elite pitcher in the AL while some of the best of the all-time best in Clemens, Johnson, and Martinez dominated the headlines.

Beyond the numbers, Mussina possessed the rare combination of power and intellect, using his low-90s fastball to overpower hitters and making them look silly with his trademark knuckle-curve and superb changeup. For the generation of Orioles fans who never got to see Palmer pitch, Mussina offered the chance to see something special every time he was taking the hill.

The deep regret was seeing him depart for New York, but that was a much greater byproduct of the deterioration of the Orioles under owner Peter Angelos than any disrespect on his part. That divorce left a complicated relationship between Mussina and Baltimore that’s thawed in recent years, but it should take nothing away from what he accomplished with the club that drafted him out of Stanford in 1990.

From the moment he made his major league debut at new Comiskey Park on Aug. 4, 1991 (a 1-0 loss on a Frank Thomas home run) to the final signature performance of his Orioles career (a 15-strikeout, one-hit shutout against Minnesota on Aug. 1, 2000), Mussina more than proved his worth as the second-best pitcher in club history. He’ll never be adored in the same way as Palmer or the Orioles’ five other core Hall of Famers after his eight years pitching in pinstripes, but that’s OK.

Even as Mussina now joins the most prestigious group baseball has to offer, he’s used to being in the shadows.

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Chapter 10: Imagine a Baltimore without the Orioles

Posted on 17 August 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 10 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. This is an unedited version of the original post without updates regarding Mike Flanagan’s suicide.)

Mike Flanagan is as close to an Orioles’ kindred spirit as I have in the world. Maybe Jim Palmer and Elrod Hendricks and Jimmy Tyler could be thrown in there as well, because they’ve seemed as omnipresent as my fandom of the Orioles.

But, Flanagan is really ” The One,” because in real terms, he’s been with the Orioles as long as I’ve been with the Orioles. And no one else I know, other than my Mom, has stayed in my life all of these years and still keeps popping up.

He came up in 1975, and I really started regularly going to games around that time, when I was 6.

I remember when he first came up, the expectations, the rotation — with Jim Palmer, Scott McGregor and Dennis Martinez, every night was trouble for some AL team — and I probably spent 80 nights of my life inside Memorial Stadium watching Mike Flanagan pitch.

From 1977 to 1984 he never had a sub-par season, only many very good ones and a couple of great ones. He left the Orioles just once — for two-plus years, pitching for the Blue Jays after a trade deadline deal in 1987.

In 1979, he won 23 games and led that magical team every time Earl Weaver threw him out there. It was his best year in baseball. It was mine too!

In 1992, he began his broadcasting career. That’s the same year I left The Evening Sun and went on the radio.

In 2003, he became part of “management”. In early 2005, I did the same thing.

But, even though we’ve gotten to know each other over the years — with him at one point walking up to me (when I didn’t even know he knew I existed) in the late 1990’s and admitting that he was a fan of MINE and addicted to “Nasty Nationwide” and listened every day with his daughter — on that last game at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 6, 1991, Mike Flanagan was just a childhood hero to me. He was, in some ways, larger than life because when I was 10 years old, he took the hill every couple of nights for the centerpiece of my life, the Baltimore Orioles.

Mike Flanagan was one of MY guys! My mood hung on every pitch he threw!
So on that sad-yet-uplifting and chilly October afternoon in 1991 — surrounded by a disgusting Redskins fan actually watching a football game on her laptop TV in Sect. 34 — it was me, Mike Flanagan, my memories of my youth and my best friend Kevin Eck (he keeps popping up doesn’t he!), along with 54,000 others just like us gathering for one of the biggest public tearjerkers in the history of this city.

If you didn’t spend your childhood at Memorial Stadium, you can probably stop reading or listening right around now.

Because you just won’t understand it. You couldn’t possibly think it is anything beyond silly.

It is truly a “Ball’mer thing.”

But EVERYONE who has ever loved the Orioles remembers

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Twelve thoughts on Dylan Bundy’s one-hit shutout

Posted on 30 August 2017 by Luke Jones

With Orioles starter Dylan Bundy pitching a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over Seattle, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. That was the kind of performance fans daydream about when their team selects a pitcher in the top five spots of the amateur draft. Whether we’re witnessing the start of something special or this was merely the pinnacle of a solid career, Tuesday’s outing was fun to watch.

2. All of his pitchers were working, but the slider was especially potent, fetching swings and misses on 10 of the 27 he threw. It’s been said before, but he’s tough to beat when he has that breaking pitch going.

3. It’s a bummer to think a chance at a no-hitter was lost on a bunt single by Kyle Seager, but he dropped that down facing a one-run deficit in the fourth inning and before anyone was thinking about any flirtation with history.

4. I was waiting for Buck Showalter to pop out of the dugout after Bundy hit Robinson Cano to lead off the ninth inning, but you had to be impressed with the way the young pitcher immediately went back to work.

5. His 95 game score is tied for the sixth best in club history, according to the Baseball Reference play index. That’s some impressive company over 64 seasons of Orioles baseball.

6. This was easily the best pitching performance by an Oriole since Erik Bedard’s two-hit shutout that included 15 strikeouts against Texas on July 7, 2007. I’ll give Bedard a slight edge since he didn’t walk a batter while Bundy walked two and hit one.

7. Bundy provided the club’s first complete-game shutout since Miguel Gonzalez pitched one in 2014 and its complete game since Ubaldo Jimenez’s last September. How much has the game changed over the years? Jim Palmer pitched 20 or more complete games in a season four times.

8. This was the third time in his last four starts he’s struck out 10 or more. According to ESPN, that’s more than the total for any Orioles pitcher over the last 10 years. Yes, that reflects the Orioles’ lack of high-quality pitching, but it’s still an impressive feat for Bundy.

9. After averaging an ordinary 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings over the first four months of the season, Bundy is striking out 11.3 per nine in August. Even with extra rest being an obvious factor, it’s encouraging for the future to see him missing more bats.

10. He became the second pitcher in Orioles history to record a one-hit shutout with 12 or more strikeouts. Mike Mussina was the first on Aug. 1, 2000 when Bundy was not quite 8 years old.

11. I understand concerns over a career-high 155 1/3 innings this season, but squabbling over the right-hander exceeding his career high in pitches by four to get the shutout just reeks of joylessness. That said, the Orioles need to continue massaging his workload the rest of the way.

12. Bundy was pitching with a heavy heart after his grandmother’s death last week. That outing sure was a special tribute to her.

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No time for panic, but Orioles have opponents’ attention

Posted on 27 May 2016 by Luke Jones

Jim Palmer said at one point Thursday night what we all were thinking watching the Orioles swing and miss their way to a three-game sweep in Houston in which they struck out a major-league record 52 times.

“It’s almost like they’ve never seen a breaking ball.”

The Orioles struck out more in a three-game series than the late Tony Gwynn ever did in an entire season during his Hall of Fame career.

Chris Davis struck out eight times. Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo both went down on strikes seven times. Pedro Alvarez collected six strikeouts and didn’t even start in the series finale. Jonathan Schoop and Matt Wieters struck out five times each.

What a nightmare.

To be clear, the Astros didn’t do anything that wasn’t already known about the Baltimore lineup. Throwing fewer fastballs and more breaking balls has always been the blueprint against these power hitters, but Houston pitchers executed well and the Orioles appeared more eager than usual to cooperate.

But let’s take a deep breath about a club entering the weekend still seven games above .500 and just two games behind Boston in the AL East despite a four-game losing streak and losing seven of 10. Don’t forget that the Orioles entered the Houston series below the league average in strikeouts and still ranked just sixth in the AL in that category entering Friday.

Whether you like it or not, strikeouts are a bigger part of baseball than ever.

It isn’t just the Orioles.

A few horrendous games — and, boy, were they horrendous — cannot trump a quarter of a season in which the Orioles struck out at an acceptable level relative to other teams. As I wrote earlier in the week, you have to take the bad with the good for a team that depends so heavily on the home run. That certainly isn’t an excuse to whiff at a historic rate in a three-game series, but every team is going to go through some rough patches over 162 games.

The key now will be to make the adjustments as Cleveland and other upcoming opponents will take notice of what the Astros were able to do with a steadier-than-normal diet of curves and sliders. It’s up to the Orioles to get back to where they were over the first six weeks of the season when strikeouts were rarely part of the conversation in their wins or losses.

They’ll remain under the strikeout microscope until then and rightly so after setting such a dubious record.

Buck Showalter likes to say you’re never as bad as it looks at your worst or as good as it appears at your best. That’s an appropriate message for both his players and Orioles fans prematurely pressing the panic button. Even after completing the three-game sweep, the 20-28 Astros would still trade places in a heartbeat.

After a miserable series in which he went 1-for-14, Adam Jones probably said it best after Thursday’s finale.

“Let’s get the hell out of Houston.”

But hopefully the Orioles leave the absurd strikeout totals behind.

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Ortiz’s response to Palmer reeks of his entitlement

Posted on 21 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Who would have guessed it would be a 69-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher to provide the biggest spark to the Orioles-Red Sox rivalry in a few years?

If you’re a social media participant, you’re likely already aware of Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer using Twitter to criticize David Ortiz after the Boston designated hitter’s antics led to his ejection from Sunday’s game. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday afternoon that Ortiz had been suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for making contact with home plate umpire John Tumpane in the moments after he was thrown out, but the veteran hitter will appeal the decision.

Yes, you could argue Palmer shouldn’t have fanned the flames of the story by responding to and posting a number of replies from angry Red Sox fans who view “Big Papi” as an infallible figure, but the beauty of social media can be the interaction with a famous figure, right? In reading Palmer’s Twitter timeline, it was amusing to see some show off their baseball ignorance in saying they’d never heard of one of the greatest pitchers of the last 50 years.

To no one’s surprise, Palmer’s criticism didn’t sit well with Ortiz, who again showed off the same entitlement that led to him being tossed from Sunday’s game in the first place.

“That’s how he wants to get respect from us? Is that how he wants me to respect him?” Ortiz said to reporters in Boston on Monday. “It’s not going to happen.”

Of Ortiz’s 11 career ejections, the last three have come against the Orioles, which provides extra ammunition for Palmer’s hard truths. Perhaps the Red Sox slugger had forgotten about a certain dugout phone he destroyed a couple years ago?

What takes the cake, however, is Ortiz suggesting Palmer made the comments to garner more attention for himself. Never mind the fact that we’re talking about a Hall of Fame pitcher who’s never been afraid to share his opinion in his three decades as a broadcaster.

“Actually, I thought that he was one of my guys,” Ortiz said. “All of a sudden, now he’s killing me, huh? I guess anybody who wants to get famous or make some noise comes to Papi, right?”

Or, Palmer just sees a tired act, whether we’re talking about Ortiz’s intimidation of umpires or the general way in which he makes everyone wait on him in the midst of a game. There’s no disputing how great his career has been or how beloved Ortiz is in the city of Boston, but to suggest a Hall of Famer — a title Ortiz hopes to enjoy one day — is trying to become famous at his expense is as arrogant as it gets.

It’s just Ortiz’s world and we’re all living in it, I suppose.

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Five questions pondering Joseph, Garcia, others

Posted on 17 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Every Friday, I’ll ponder five topics related to the Orioles or Ravens (or a mix of both).

Five questions

1. Does Caleb Joseph make it easy to wait for Matt Wieters to take his time to return?
No, I don’t expect the former to continue hitting .375, but it’s difficult to argue how good his defense has been as Orioles pitching posted a 3.00 ERA with him behind the plate in 2014, he threw out 40 percent of runners trying to steal, and his pitch framing rates better than Wieters’ did in either of his his last two full seasons. The question isn’t whether Joseph is better than or as good as the pre-injury Wieters — he’s clearly not — but it remains to be seen if the post-surgery Wieters will be the same defensively and whether he’ll provide enough offense to justify being the undisputed starter if he’s a shell of his old self behind the plate.

2. Does Buck Showalter need to figure out exactly what he has with Jason Garcia sooner rather than later?
I know the Orioles love the Rule 5 pick’s arm and he has nice potential at age 22, but they can’t afford to carry him if it means they essentially have a 24-man roster. If his arm is special enough to warrant keeping him, he should be able to get some meaningful outs along the way. The early-season struggles of Tommy Hunter and and the rest of the bullpen have magnified the situation, of course, but Showalter needs to be able to use Garcia in some legitimate situations, especially if he’s not going to give the Orioles length in the same way that T.J. McFarland did as a Rule 5 pick in 2013.

3. Should third base coaches take more chances around baseball?
I thought about this at different times this winter after Kansas City elected not to send Alex Gordon home as the potential tying run in Game 7 of the World Series, and the question returns with Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson drawing the ire of fans with some questionable sends at the start of the season. Historically, a runner standing on third base with two outs will score only 27 percent of the time, but data shows only five percent of runners being sent home from second base on a single with two outs are thrown out at the plate. Yes, that success rate looks great, but how many potential runs are ultimately being stranded at third base to avoid the chance of a runner being thrown out in favor of the potentially lower-percentage chance of the next batter driving him in. Of course, there are many variables involved such as the speed of the runner, the location of the ball, and the arm strength of the fielder, but it’s still interesting to ponder how many potential runs are lost due to the fear of failure and the criticism that a third base coach can face.

4. Is the exuberant friendship between Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop a joy to watch?
I first watched these two play together when they were at Single-A Frederick in 2011, and it’s scary to think how young both still are with so much untapped potential. Of course, scenes like this don’t hurt, either:

5. Do we still not appreciate Jim Palmer enough? The Hall of Fame pitcher celebrated the 50th anniversary of his major league debut Friday and he continues to remain a fixture on Orioles telecasts five decades later. As someone who only remembers Palmer the broadcaster, I marvel at his numbers, which included a period of nine times in 10 years from 1969-1978 in which he posted an ERA below 3.00 and at least 4.1 wins above replacement. His 211 complete games, 53 shutouts, and four seasons of 300 or more innings are numbers we don’t even see in video games today.

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My Final Conversation with Earl Weaver

Posted on 19 January 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2rL8FBb9AI

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Reaction to the passing of Orioles manager Earl Weaver

Posted on 19 January 2013 by WNST Staff

“Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball. This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans.

Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family.”-Orioles owner Peter Angelos, via a team release.

“Every time I look at an Oriole, it’s going to be missing a feather now without Earl.“-Orioles manager Buck Showalter 

“Earl was such a big part of Orioles baseball and personally he was a very important part of my life and career…and a great friend to our family. His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere and certainly by all of us who had the great opportunity to play for him. Earl will be missed but he can’t and won’t be forgotten.”-Cal Ripken Jr. 

“I would say that Earl Weaver had the greatest impact on me as a baseball player-more than anyone else. He was tough to get along with and only cared about winning, but he is the reason why Oriole baseball is what is today. Earl was a genius and a Hall of Fame manager, and the closest that’s ever got to that is the man we have right now in Buck Showalter.”-Former Orioles catcher and MASN broadcaster Rick Dempsey.

“It’s a sad day for Orioles fans and all of baseball. Earl certainly was one of the greatest managers. To me, his greatest strength was his ability to get his players to focus on playing the game on a daily basis. The results were many wins, and a Hall of Fame career.”-Former Orioles OF Ken Singleton, who played for Earl Weaver from 1975-1982.

“O’s and MLB family lost a great leader yesterday. Earl Weaver wasn’t blessed with height but if u measured his HEART he was a 7 footer.

The man lived a great life. I think it should be a celebration. 82 years is a remarkable feat.”-Orioles OF Adam Jones

“[Earl] was a strange, intense but unforgettable man…a big part of my youth.”-Broadcaster and longtime Oriole fan Roy Firestone.

“It’s a sad day, obviously. Earl was a terrific manager and I have to be grateful that Earl was with us for the Legends Series and we got a chance to spend time with him for every single statue ceremony unveiling. He is terrific. His simplicity and clarity of his leadership and his passion for baseball are unmatched. He’s a treasure for the Orioles and we are so grateful we had the opportunity to work with him this year.”Orioles Executive VP of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette

“Really sad to hear about that today.  He meant a lot to this city and to this organization.  You wouldn’t want to be anywhere else for today to spend all day with Oriole players and thousands of Orioles fans just to remember everything about him.”Steve Johnson, Orioles Pitcher

“It was the perfect relationship. We won, he was tough, we got our World Series checks. It worked…you don’t ever forget an Earl Weaver. And not just if you were an umpire. Fans, players, everyone…Earl was about winning and that was what he did.

It’s a sad day for any of us that knew Earl but it’s also a sad day, I think, for anybody that has been involved with Orioles baseball. We were lucky to have him here because he did end up in the Hall of Fame. He managed some marvelous teams. But I think now we all share the pain of him being gone.

Earl never wanted to be your friend because I think he thought it would detract from his ability to be a manager.  But the one thing he did want to do — he let you know that he was loyal to you by putting your name in the lineup. You can’t really ask for much more than that.

One of the great stories is Mike Flanagan came up to me and said ‘One year you had pitched 5 innings. It was your second or third time out at spring training and you were running foul line to foul line. He (Earl Weaver) called me over to the bench and said you see that guy out there? And Mike said you mean Jim Palmer? He said yes, just do what he does and you will be fine here in the big leagues’. Mike would always tell me that and I almost wanted to call Flanny to tell him that Earl had passed away. But he (Earl Weaver) said if you do what he does things are going to take care of themselves. Couple of years ago up at the Hall of Fame, the night before the induction I told him that story and said one of the biggest compliments you ever paid me, not directly to me, was what you told Mike Flanagan.  He looked at me and said I just didn’t tell Flanagan, I told everybody…” -Former Orioles Pitcher Jim Palmer

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Time to “Buckle up” — there’s Orioles Magic in air for Baltimore tonight

Posted on 06 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

All of these wins and hours of scoreboard watching for fans of the Baltimore Orioles – and finally – tonight the city will fill Camden Yards with the “magic” that only a Cal Ripken event can exert for the Charm City.

Alas, no scriptwriter in Hollywood or even a “Major League” movie redux could’ve dreamed up the juiciness that this unexpected Baltimore Orioles pennant run has facilitated this weekend.

Last week, the stands were empty as the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox came to town.

This weekend, with the New York Yankees on the ropes and the Orioles surging and trailing the Evil Empire by just one game in the AL East, Camden Yards will be buzzing with orange energy for the first time in eight years despite the “premium pricing” methods of Peter Angelos’ staff.

In the land of pleasant living, we call it “Orioles Magic.” Berthed in 1979 under Wild Bill Hagy with Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Rick Dempsey and Earl Weaver, brought to life by a World Series win in 1983 and resurrected duing the “Why Not?” campaign of 1989, the city’s enthusiasm and genuine love for the Baltimore Orioles has been dormant for the better part of 15 years at Camden Yards under the weight of last place and its own evil ownership regime.

But tonight none of that will matter because the Orioles can beat the Yankees and go back into first place in September.

Hard to believe it was 17 years ago tonight that Cal Ripken ran his victory lap amidst the confetti and “One Moment In Time.”

And make no mistake about it, a statue ceremony and a fancy giveaway item would’ve brought plenty of people to Camden Yards tonight no matter the record of the 2012 Orioles.

But what we’re going to witness – or in my case, be a part of – tonight should truly be “magical” for any longtime fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

Despite falling out of first place with last night’s loss in Toronto combined with a Yankees win in Tampa, tonight’s game once again has first place on the line and the 46,000 who are holders of these lucky tickets should be expected to bring full O-R-I-O-L-E-S voices tonight as Camden Yards should erupt with sound where previously it’s been a bunch of excuses and reasons for why the seats are empty.

I’m going to the game tonight. And, yes, I bought a ticket.

Other than “Free The Birds” events, it’s the first ticket I’ve purchased since 2004.

It’s worth going tonight to feel the civic energy and I’ll be bellied up to the centerfield bar soaking in the energy and enthusiasm that I wrote about in 2006 when WNST led the “Free The Birds” movement.

And in as much as some have twisted my words, I’ve never wanted anything more than what we currently have in Baltimore – a relevant baseball team that brings together the community for a common cause.

I’m not sure some fans are really prepared emotionally for what tonight will look and feel like inside Camden Yards.

Internally, many of the longtime employees certainly couldn’t have had any fire drills for this. And the players on the field – Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, the core guys who have only seen the stands full of Yankees or Red Sox fans over the years – should especially soak in the noise tonight because they’ve earned the right to Baltimore’s cheers with their solid play and the excitement they’ve filled our living rooms with this summer.

I think even Derek Jeter will be taken aback because he hasn’t seen anything like this since 1997. Usually, it’s 40,000 Yankees fans beating on the home team.

It won’t be that way tonight.

This is the Baltimore Orioles chance  – players, coaches, employees and ownership alike – to drastically move the needle on the fan

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