Tag Archive | "oriole park at camden yards"

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Game times set for potential ALDS Games 1 and 2 in Baltimore

Posted on 05 October 2012 by WNST Staff

Should the Orioles win the American League Wild Card play-in game against the Texas Rangers on Friday night, we now know when they will play the New York Yankees in the first two games of the AL Division Series.

With Major League Baseball switching to a five-game format in which the lower-seeded team hosts the first two games and the higher seed hosts the final three games of the Division Series, the Orioles would welcome New York to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Sunday and Monday.

The league announced Game 1 would begin at 6:15 p.m. on Sunday evening. Game 2 would then take place on Monday night with an 8:07 p.m. first pitch. Both games would be televised on TBS.

The final three games of the series — with Games 4 and 5 only being played if necessary — would take place at Yankee Stadium Wednesday through Friday.

Times have yet to be announced for those contests, but all three would again be shown on TBS.

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The Orioles are begging for our help.  I say we should give it to them…

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The Orioles are begging for our help. I say we should give it to them…

Posted on 10 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

Closed-door meetings happen all the time in sports.  They’re usually held during a time of panic, when a manager, coach or player feels the need to get everyone’s attention by shutting off the outside world and addressing those who are in the battle together.

Prior to the final game of their series in Tampa Bay last week, the Yankees held a rare closed-door meeting and aired some of their laundry.  It worked, albeit briefly, as New York salvaged the final game of the series with a 6-4 win.

It’s time for us to have a closed-door meeting.

Who is “us”, you ask?

Us…the baseball fans of Baltimore.

I’ll go ahead and shut the doors and get it started.  I assume you don’t mind if I run the meeting.

Welcome in…

Last week, the Orioles announced a drastic reduction in ticket prices for this week’s home series with the Tampa Bay Rays, offering $4.00 and $8.00 seats in hopes of boosting the attendance for arguably one of the biggest three-game sets in Baltimore since 1996 or so.

Let’s all understand something before we get to the meat of the meeting (no pun intended).

This was a DRAMATIC move by the Orioles.  I put dramatic in all caps for a reason.  This is a team so desperate for an extra buck or two that over the last three years they’ve charged baseball fans MORE money just because you decide on a whim to attend a home game without day-before notice.  This is an organization that has taken to “back-dooring” their own tickets to Stub Hub in what can only be termed “professional scalping”.  In other words, money and more money are typically all that matters to the Birds when it comes to matters of ticketing.

But then last week’s news was released and the Orioles actually came full circle and publicly told us what most smart people already knew:  In order to get fans back, you have to give them a reason.  You have to lead them by the hand.

The baseball team, for the first time in as long as I can remember, is now saying “we need you, please.”  This, of course, is the organization well known for their motto of “when we win, the fans will come back…wait and see.”  Dropping ticket prices and making a public plea for support is as close to a mea culpa as you’re going to get from the Orioles.  If you were waiting for a personal apology e-mail, it’s not going to happen.  But make no mistake about it:  The Orioles are basically saying, now, “We’ll make the first move.  Take us up on our kindness and help the team beat Tampa Bay.”

Don’t pay any attention at all to the way they’ve marketed the ticket price drop over the last week.  They’ve used the “20 year anniversary of Camden Yards” as a means of connecting the price reduction with the opening of the ballpark in 1992.  We all know they wouldn’t be doing this if they were 20 games out of first place.  In the past, they’ve offered a handful of upper deck nosebleed seats for $1.00 just to say “we’re trying”, but never before have they reduced GOOD seats.

Anyway, as one Orioles front office staffer remarked to me last week, this move was done in part because the organization was “stunned” (the front office employee’s word, not mine) at the horrible attendance for the White Sox series three weeks ago.  When 47,000 people showed up for FOUR important home games at the end of August, the wheels started turning in The Warehouse and panic set in — and rightfully so.

The recently-completed Yankees series sold itself.  The club smartly kicked off the 4-games by having the Ripken ceremony on Thursday night and then playoff fever coupled with the New Yorkers who made their way to Baltimore over the weekend added up to a terrific four days of crowds at Camden Yards.

(Please see next page)

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It’s time for the Orioles “to get clean”

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It’s time for the Orioles “to get clean”

Posted on 20 August 2012 by Drew Forrester

Of all the things regarding the Orioles I followed while I was on vacation, I have to admit attendance at Camden Yards was the least of them.

For starters, it’s not really a big deal anymore with the club’s owner all but guaranteed upwards of $50 million or more from the regional sports network he started six years ago.

And this year, for the first time since we were all starting to stare Y2K in the face, the team’s record on the field is of the utmost importance.

In sports, winning and the discussion about how it’s happening are always more important than attendance.

Well, almost always.

In this town, particularly, attendance is an interesting topic because the baseball team used to draw more than 45,000 people per-game.  Now, unless they’re giving away a bobblehead or playing the Yankees over a weekend series, the Birds are lucky to draw 20,000 live, breathing human beings at the ballpark.

And since the Ravens fill every seat, every game – thereby eliminating any silly notion that Baltimore “isn’t a sports town” – there’s clearly a disconnect between the baseball team and their fan base.  Or what’s no longer left of it.

But will September baseball that matters bring the people back en masse?  When the Orioles host the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 12-13-14, will the seats be filled to the brim as Charm City experiences important baseball for the first time since Clinton ran the country?

Will they?

I don’t know.

“What has happened to the attendance?” is a debate that many have entered.

We all know the answer to that question.  It can be summed up nicely by just saying this:  ”The team has stunk, the organization has been poorly marketed and the advent of their own attendance-death-knell, the TV deal with MASN, has made it easy to simply say, ‘F-it, I’ll stay home and watch some of the game until they fall behind 6-1 in the 4th inning.”

That’s it in a nutshell.

Combine a horrible on-field product (which, they had from 1998 through 2011) with terrible marketing (it’s been as bad as the on-field assembly, if not worse by a whisker) and put every home game on TV and you have the recipe for no one showing up.

How many times over the last few years have you said to yourself, “I’d go down there tonight, but I got home late from work and I’m kinda beat…I’ll just watch it on TV.”???  Or, “It’s just too hot and humid tonight.  I’ll just catch it on MASN.”  It’s easy to stay home and watch it when you can — wait for it — “stay home and watch it.”

But as S.E. Hinton once wrote, “That was then, this is now.”

In terms of the Orioles, “then” was prior to this season.  Attendance has been falling for years.

“Now” is the 2012 edition of the Orioles, competing hard every night, winning more games than they’re losing and looking more and more like a team that will play September baseball that counts.

So will people fill the ballpark after Labor Day when the Birds square off against the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays and Red Sox to finish the campaign and, perhaps, decide their post-season fate?

Your guess is as good as mine.

The numbers this season, with the team winning a lot of games, haven’t necessarily improved enough to put any direct correlation between being better ON the field and having more people in the stands.  The statistics say their average attendance is up about 23%.  Some of that could be attributed to winning, of course.  Some of it, I assume, is connected to the Hall of Fame statue series they’ve done this season, one of the club’s better and most impressive public relations efforts in a long time.  But the “why?” isn’t all that important.  ”Why?” are only about 4,000 additional fans coming back to the ballpark so far this season?  Who cares, really?  If more people are showing up, that’s a good thing, even if they’re showing up mainly for a free t-shirt or a bobblehead or to hear Eddie Murray speak.

But for a team tasting winning for the first time in 15 seasons, a bump in attendance from 21,000 to 25,000 per-game can hardly be considered massive.

I’ll say it again, though.

None of it matters.  None of the stuff I just chronicled REALLY matters, now, because what lies ahead is the only thing the club should be worried about as August starts to wind down.

The marketing and sales folks at The Warehouse should be thinking about one thing:  ”How do we get people to come to the games in September and fill the stadium so we might create a homefield advantage for ourselves in games that are really important?”

That’s it.

That’s the question.

Here’s one answer that isn’t legitimate.

“As long as we’re winning, they’ll come back.”

Wrong, I’m afraid.

(Please see next page)

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Who is the Next Statue?

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Who is the Next Statue?

Posted on 12 August 2012 by Brett Dickinson

After about a three hour rain delay on Saturday, Eddie Murray was recognized as one of six players to be enshrined at Camden Yards with his own statue in center field.  He joined the likes of Earl Weaver, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and soon to be, Cal Ripken Jr. as the fixtures in the outfield for as long as the beautiful ballpark stands.  Each are Hall of Famers and rightfully so, as they include some of the best players (and manager) the sport has ever seen.  These men had a major role in not only shaping what was the heyday of the Orioles franchise, but in developing Orioles Park as the stadium you see today.

But since Cal’s retirement, we have all witnessed this team’s demise, which in turn has demolished the spirit of what was once one of the best fan bases in any sport.  In the past twenty years, no one has earned the right to even be considered for such a glorious recognition like Eddie Murray witnessed this weekend.  There have been individuals who had led to the disappointment in the Inner Harbor, which is a now a major part of this franchises’ history.   Obviously, they do not deserve to be next to the likes of the greats in center, but what if we honored those people by making another monument park; maybe next to the dumpster in the parking lot under 95.

Who would make that cut?  This is the list of members of Orioles history, who would be worthy of such a distinction; who should be enshrined with trash and bird droppings underneath the bypass for contributions to the team.

5. Rafael Palmeiro- Though he did enjoy a great deal of success in Baltimore (and may have considered to bear an Orioles lid in his Hall of Fame bust), he disgraced himself and the organization with his antics in front of Congress.  His statue would signify his punch line finger wave, while holding a needle of “B12″ in the other hand.

4. Roberto Alomar- He actually has been elected to the Hall of Fame, but only spent a couple years in Baltimore, not worthy of actual glory.  And with all his greatness, he is remembered as an Oriole for one incident involving some spit and a disgruntled umpire; his statue would reenact that moment.

3. Jeffrey Maier- Maybe no other human being coincides with the O’s demise than Maier and his glove.  Without him, maybe the team gains momentum in a series versus the Yankees onto another championship banner.  Maier doesn’t even deserve his likeness into a statue, so instead it would be a replica of Tony Tarrasco’s reaction from that night.

2. Albert Belle- No player has actually shaped what the franchise has become more than Albert Belle.  His massive contract handcuffed the organizations thought process, and bank account, for the last decade.  His likeness would be a cast of himself, fat and on his couch, with a bag of potato chips in one hand and a money bag in the other.

1. Peter Angelos- Since his taking over the franchise, this fan base has suffered enough heartache to cripple the entire city.  His awful organizational standards and misguided views on running a team have led to the worst stint of Oriole baseball ever.  His statue would not actually be himself, but an actual turd to symbolize how he is viewed by anyone supporting the Black and Orange.

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Machado up on night of first Ravens game? Ballsy move, Birds

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Machado up on night of first Ravens game? Ballsy move, Birds

Posted on 09 August 2012 by Glenn Clark

I hypothetically asked the question a few weeks ago on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net.

“If the Baltimore Orioles are able to remain in the postseason hunt into September, will it have any impact at all on how you watch/support the Baltimore Ravens in September?”

I pointed out at the time that the two teams did not have games scheduled at the same time at all during September. (The Ravens’ Week 1 Monday night and Week 4 Thursday night primetime home games come on scheduled off days for the Birds. The Week 2 game at Philadelphia is scheduled for 1pm while the O’s are scheduled to play after 4 in Oakland. The Ravens’ Week 3 game also happens in primetime while the Birds take the field in Boston at 1pm.) There would be no direct conflict unless there is a weather related reschedule, or possibly if the Orioles were to make the postseason.

The truth is that there is no basis for comparison when it comes to how Charm City sports fans would treat this short crossover period. The Orioles’ last run to the postseason came in 1997, before the Ravens had captured the collective imaginations, hearts and back accounts of the Mid-Atlantic region’s sports fans. If we date back to the time when the Baltimore Colts and Orioles shared the city; mass media consumption, television coverage and big business of sports were incomparable to 2012.

Reaction to the question was quite varied. Some fans said they wouldn’t change any priorities related to the Ravens because football simply had become more significant to them. Other fans said they couldn’t imagine making any early season football game a priority while the Orioles were in pursuit of their first playoff appearance in a decade and a half. Still others thought it impossible to think that they would have to alter the way they paid attention to or supported either franchise, stating that other cities (namely Boston and New York) have never appeared to struggle with the same problem.

For many, the topic remains the elephant in the room. It might actually happen, they just don’t want to talk about it. They’d rather say things like “let’s just see if the Orioles can hold up their end of the bargain.” The Orioles however took the opportunity Wednesday to remind you that not only does the elephant exist, it’s an actual f*cking elephant.

Perhaps the Baltimore Orioles’ decision to purchase the contract of Bowie Baysox INF (and former first round pick) Manny Machado and allow him to make his MLB debut Thursday night has nothing to do with the fact that the Ravens are opening the preseason against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Of course, perhaps the correlation is absolutely purposeful.

Perhaps the Orioles wanted to take a strike against the pro sports team in town whose success has relegated them to “orange-headed stepchild” status 364 days a year (yes, I’m giving the Birds Opening Day. Nothing more.)

Perhaps members of the Orioles organization had a conversation this week about the lackluster attendance figures at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the three games against the Seattle Mariners and said “this is probably going to be worse Thursday since fans will want to stay home and watch the football game. Let’s try to combat that somehow.”

Perhaps Peter Angelos (well…probably not Old Man Angelos but someone he allows to advise him and/or make decisions) is still pissed off about the Ravens’ Facebook jab from Opening Day and decided they wanted to put a dent in the football team’s television ratings-which will likely already be hurt by the fact that the game had to be moved from WBAL to WMAR and will be going up against the NBC affiliate’s continued Olympics coverage.

Perhaps there’s still bitterness for how the teams’ MASN-fueled relationship fell apart in 2010 and the Orioles wanted to flex their muscles a little bit to remind the Ravens they’re now working a network (Comcast SportsNet) that has clearly made the Washington Redskins a greater priority over the last two seasons.

Perhaps the Orioles are hoping they can play off the small bit of fan angst created when the Ravens ended their Westminster Training Camp tradition and win the hearts of young sports fans who are angry they can’t get autographs at McDaniel College. Perhaps they’re hoping to steal back part of an already small market that has partially abandoned the Orange and Black.

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The Infamous Warehouse

Posted on 01 July 2012 by scottzolotorow

 

 

With Jim Thome rolling into Baltimore just a few years past his home run hitting prime and Chris Davis’s monstrous Eutaw Street home run in yesterday’s loss, the question still stands…Will anyone ever hit the old B&O Warehouse? Now I know everyone jumps at the chance to say that Griffey did it in the Derby. And that was an astonishing feat, where the ball traveled approximately 465 feet to the base of the renowned building. The Warehouse is Oriole Park at Camden Yards’ most distinguishing feature. At 1,116 feet long it is known as the longest brick building on the east coast. If you were to stand it up, the Warehouse would be the 7th tallest building in the United States. The six taller are located in either Chicago or New York. Chris Davis’s 437 foot home run yesterday was the 65th home run to reach Eutaw Street. It was the 28th hit by an Oriole and the 8th overall hit this season, which ties a record for most Eutaw bombs in a single season.

So would anyone care to take a guess at who has the third longest Eutaw Street home run? None other then new Oriole, Jim Thome. On July 26th, 1996 as a member of the Cleveland Indians, Thome hit a 440 foot shot of Mike Mussina, who was the Oriole’s ace at the time. Only Henry Rodriguez of the Expos in 1997 and Adam Dunn of the Nationals have hit further balls onto Eutaw Street then Thome’s blast in 1996. Theoretically Jay Gibbons has come the closest, hitting a ball only 4 feet short of the Warehouse back in 2003 against the Phillies, though his ball only traveled 420 feet, 23 feet short of Rodriguez’s longest shot in ’97.

Jim Thome has 609 career regular season home runs. His furthest homerun of his career was a 511 foot blast at then Jacobs Field in Cleveland back in his seventh major league season in 1997. Now by my predictions that would have hit the Warehouse without a doubt if he pulled it. Nobody has ever hit a further home run at Progressive Field. But will he be the first to do it, or maybe it will be the earlier mentioned, Chris Davis. But my guess is eventually, it will be done. If Adam Dunn was a member of the Orioles I think he would have done it. This season, of his 24 home runs, two of them would have been the longest home runs in Eutaw Street history, and who knows maybe his 450 foot blast on April 6th, may have been the first ball to make it to the still uncharted territory. But here’s to hoping that it’s Thome’s first blast as an Oriole that makes it there because wouldn’t that be a great story.

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Your Monday Reality Check-What a difference a week makes?

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Your Monday Reality Check-What a difference a week makes?

Posted on 11 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

Perhaps you’re not familiar with WNST.net MLB analyst Allen McCallum. Allen was once the Ballpark Reporter at WNST, covering the Baltimore Orioles on a daily basis. He’s remained with us in the years since then, appearing once a week in studio (currently with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”) to talk Major League Baseball and Baltimore Orioles.

Allen is a really good dude, but is decidedly un-American in my book. You see, Allen doesn’t like football. I don’t understand it either, trust me. I have every reason to believe he celebrates the 4th of July and enjoys a good slice of Apple Pie, but he loves baseball and just doesn’t care about our national pastime.

Despite this obvious flaw, I’ve maintained a level of friendship and (as much as is possible for someone who I have to imagine may be a communist) respect for Allen. I don’t dislike him, I just don’t understand how someone like him can exist in this country. You see, football is our beautiful game. It’s a game fathers play in the backyard with sons. Baseball is okay when there aren’t real sports to watch, but is clearly inferior to football in every way.

I’m kidding. Well I’m kidding a LITTLE bit anyway.

The reason my lede is about our resident purveyor of Orange Kool-Aid is because Allen likes to make a point during the course of baseball season that is relevant to both sports. As Birds fans have a tendency to freak out over the results of a couple of games (or one game…or a couple of innings…or a single at-bat), Allen likes to send out a reminder that “this isn’t football. There’s 162 games to be played.”

It hasn’t always been good news in Charm City that the O’s have to play 162 games, but the point he makes is relevant. During Ravens season we tend to overreact to one particular game, but we do that knowing that one game reflects roughly six percent of the season. While a NFL team can certainly recover from a stretch of two or three bad games, a bad streak can quickly spiral into killing a quarter of a football season. At the same time, a bad streak of three or four games during baseball season does not even represent the same six percent of the season that one football game represents.

Let me try to step away from math for a second. A single football game is more significant than a single baseball game. But you already knew that.

Seven days ago (which as I type this would have been June 4), there was reason for great concern amongst Baltimore baseball fans. After getting off to a 27-14 start, the Birds were mired in a streak that saw them drop 10 of 13 games. Sitting at 30-24, the Birds had appeared to already be well into their annual “June swoon” and seemed destined to find themselves on their way to the cellar of the AL East.

But something funny happened in the six games that followed. Instead of continuing their free fall, the Birds stabilized. They won two of three against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, then returned home to take two dramatic extra inning contests against the Philadelphia Phillies at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in front of thousands of stunned supporters who had made their way down I-95 from The City of Brotherly Love.

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Why are you mad that Phillies fans took over the ballpark?  You knew it was going to happen…

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Why are you mad that Phillies fans took over the ballpark? You knew it was going to happen…

Posted on 10 June 2012 by Drew Forrester

I wasn’t in Baltimore for most of this past weekend, so I didn’t get a chance to witness the Orioles and Phillies live and in-person.

But I read enough e-mails and saw plenty of Twitter outrage to know what happened Friday through Sunday.  Philadelphia baseball fans took over the ballpark in Baltimore for three days.

So…that surprises you?

It shouldn’t.

And, frankly, it shouldn’t even anger you.

For starters, there’s no way to keep them out.  Second, the Orioles themselves – the front office, that is – are thrilled to see upwards of 135,000 people make their way into the stadium.  The color of the t-shirt they’re wearing doesn’t bother the organization one iota.  If you think the Orioles’ brass is miffed with the overflow of Phillies fans in the house, you’re nuts.  Out of town fans spend American money just like hometown fans would if they bothered to show up and support the Birds.

I understand why it irritates the common fan.  It’s just not pleasant to have 27,000 of “their” fans in the place and 13,000 of your own on a Friday night.  I get it.  But I’ve stopped fretting over it.  This is the way it’s going to be here for a long time to come.  Sorry to be the guy delivering that dose of reality to you, but Boston, New York and Philadelphia fans will take over the ballpark when their team comes to town.  There just aren’t enough die-hard Orioles fans left to fill all 45,000 of those seats night-in and night-out.

The Orioles success on the field this season isn’t anywhere near enough to turn the tide on the situation involving visiting fans.  It’s going to take years and years of winning and “doing the right thing” from the desks of the front office folk before a new generation of Baltimore baseball fans start bleeding orange to the point that it gets them to the stadium 15-20 times a season.

The best thing you can do right now is the same advice I gave you back in early May when the club got off to that blazing start and we had a certain segment of the fan base up in arms over “bandwagon” Orioles fans who were suddenly back in the fold because the team was winning.

Stop worrying about who is a fan, who isn’t a fan, what fans are actually coming to the games and what fans aren’t…and just watch the team play good baseball and hope they continue to do so.

It’s been so long since we’ve actually had a decent team in Baltimore that I find myself on most nights just settling in to (hopefully) enjoy a team with a reasonable chance of winning.  I’m still looking smarter-than-ever because I’m the goof in town who said they’d win 78 games…but no matter how many they win, I know for certain this brand of baseball that we’ve watched over the first 60 games is far more pleasing than the garbage teams the organization has made us support over the last six years or so.

Just watch the games.  Cheer for the team.  And stop worrying about other team’s fans coming in and taking over the stadium.

It’s not going to change.

Not for a long time, anyway.

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One month later, Orioles still can’t get the student ticket issue sorted out…

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One month later, Orioles still can’t get the student ticket issue sorted out…

Posted on 06 June 2012 by Drew Forrester

This is getting more funny by the day.

I’ve left the Orioles alone for three weeks after doing my best to try and help their fans (aka “listeners”) sift through the rubble of this “Student Ticket” fiasco.

In the event you’re new to the scene and you need a refresher course, HERE is the original blog I wrote that detailed the events of a poorly run Orioles ticket promotion that’s designed to reward students with a six dollar ticket for Friday night home games, but instead wound up angering fans who showed up at the ballpark and were told the tickets were “no longer available” for six dollars.

A bunch of Apologists tried to defend the Orioles three weeks ago while I was busy endeavoring to get them to do the simplest of all things: Tell their fans the truth about the program.  I reached out to the team but never got a REAL answer that I could rely on.  Several of those Apologists say they reached out to the team and were told the facts — but, naturally, we’ve come to find out that the club wasn’t truthful with those people, either.

Last night during the MASN broadcast of the Orioles and Red Sox from Boston, a promotional ad popped up on the screen concerning “Student Discount Ticket Night”.

At the bottom, the ad noted:  ”Student tickets available until they sell out”

Until. They. Sell. Out.

So…when is that?  Are you selling 500 tickets?  1,000 tickets?  3,000 tickets?

How many?

Oh, that’s right, the Orioles won’t tell anyone.

Oddly enough, though, when they’re giving away bobbleheads or t-shirts or hats, they tell you EXACTLY how many of those items are available.  When they need to convince you that something besides a baseball game is attractive enough to lure you to the stadium, they give you all the details.

Evidently, though, when you’ve made the decision to go to the stadium and you show up in line – meaning “I’m here, I’m going” – the Orioles aren’t quite as willing to be truthful with you.

That’s too bad.

In fact, it’s shameful.

I’m not sure why this “number” is such a state secret.  Why, why, why is it SUCH an issue with the Orioles just telling their customers how many student ticket discount tickets are for sale every Friday?

“Tickets available until they sell out”.

Huh?

(Please see next page)

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I hope contract helps Jones keep Birds accountable

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I hope contract helps Jones keep Birds accountable

Posted on 27 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve already used both space on Twitter (@WNST, @GlennClarkWNST) and on AM1570 WNST.net to opine about the significance of the Baltimore Orioles giving CF Adam Jones the richest contract in franchise history.

We now finally know all of the details and Jones is set to discuss those details Sunday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I won’t be attending Sunday’s press conference. I would, but our WNST.net Ballpark reporter Luke Jones has been denied the right to ask questions at previous press conferences and I don’t want to run the risk of causing a scene at what should almost certainly be a day of celebration.

Adam Jones’ contract extension is as much an event to celebrate as almost anything we’ve seen in the last 15 years of baseball in Charm City. The Birds have perhaps addressed both their present and their future and made a major statement about their willingness to do things differently than they have for more than decade while losing many more games than they won.

I’m aware Jones perhaps took a hometown discount in signing the contract a season and a half shy of free agency. I’m aware the team still appears to need more pitching than they currently have to be an annual contender. I’m aware that the team now needs to shift attention to catcher Matt Wieters when it comes to contracts.

There was something bigger than jumped out at me though.

As I was given more time to dissect what Jones’ deal really means, I thought back to December 1997. For O’s fans around my age, Brady Anderson was about the coolest thing to ever happen to the Orange & Black. He had young female fans worship him and young male fans…well…basically worship him. He had it all. Sideburns, muscles, personality, charm, speed, defense and an amazing 50 home run season.

(I didn’t mention anything about performance enhancing drugs. You do what you want there.)

After Anderson’s 50 home run campaign in 1996 and the Orioles’ run to the ALCS in ’97, young fans like myself lived in fear of waking up one morning to be informed that Anderson had signed a major deal with the New York Yankees or Atlanta Braves or Cleveland Indians.

Anderson was certainly not the commodity at 34 that Jones would have been had he reached free agency at 28, but he still had market interest. He ultimately passed on shorter deals with more per season to accept five years and $31 million from Peter Angelos and the Orioles. Anderson’s best seasons were clearly behind him, but it still meant quite a bit for the franchise to make the move.

I also thought back to January of 2009, when Andy MacPhail locked up OF Nick Markakis for six years and $66 million, the richest contract extension the franchise had given to a player until Jones’ deal. (SS Miguel Tejada had received the overall most lucrative contract in team history until Jones.) While certainly not reaching superstar status, Markakis has given the Birds stellar defense and a mostly consistent bat.

But beyond the significant contracts, there is a more important similarity between the two players whose time has spanned much of the team’s “Rock Bottom Era.” The issue is that neither player was able to use his major contract to help keep the team accountable.

A baseball player with a rich contract is in a unique situation with the franchise paying the deal. Because the money is guaranteed, the player has the right to get away with certain things a player in another league might not be able to. In the case of the Orioles, they’ve really needed a player who has been willing to stand up and say “we need better” as the team suffered through losing seasons after losing season.

Allow me to be fair to the two players involved. Anderson was only part of the club at the very beginning of their lean years, and the team was still making at least some attempts to improve by bringing in the likes of Albert Belle and others. (Anderson however has become a well known defender of the Angelos regime in recent years, which has helped him find his way back into the organization.) Markakis has never been much of a vocal type, but he did publicly question the direction of the organization. His participated in a dinner with Angelos that season to discuss those very issues.

Perhaps there is an argument to be made that Markakis’ 2010 outburst DID lead to accountability, as two years later the Orioles have shown themselves (at least for two months) to be one of the better teams in baseball.

But moving forward, I hope it’s a role that suits Jones well. I hope the fire, drive, passion and determination to win that have made Jones an emotional figure in recent years will translate both on field and off. I hope that if the Birds make questionable decisions, he’ll call them out for them. It doesn’t need to be something he does publicly, just a statement made privately from the player slated to receive more money during his tenure than any Oriole before.

I hope Jones embraces not only the responsibilities of an on field leader and star, but as a bit of a caretaker for an organization that has so desperately lacked the right man for the role. I hope he puts pressure on the organization to make the moves necessary to stay in contention every season. I hope he never takes the easy way out and thinks “Mr. Angelos (or insert future owner’s name here) has made me a rich man. It’s not my place to stand up to him.”

I feel as though Jones can be a significant part of the solution for the Orioles. I hope he’s up for everything that comes along with the task.

-G

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