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Orioles today: The “bad fan debate” ignites when you’ve won 8 of 9

Posted on 12 August 2010 by Drew Forrester

Over the last few days, as the Orioles surge continues and folks start sniffing what it’s really like to have a decent team play baseball in August, you’re starting to hear THIS theme a lot more:  ”Oh yeah, now that the team is winning again, people are suddenly back on board.”

First of all, don’t confuse winning 8 of 9 with “winning again”.  The Reds are “winning again”.  The Padres are “winning again”.  The Rangers are “winning again”.

What the Orioles are doing right now is making good use of a rabbit’s foot.  They’re not “winning again”.  They’re “finally on a hot streak”.

When the Birds play a meaningful game in September – one that impacts their position in the American League East standings – that’s when you’ll be able to say “the Orioles are winning again”.  When’s that going to happen?  Hell, I don’t know.  Probably around the same time I qualify for The Masters.  Or Pete Yorn puts out a bad album.  Or Towson football has a winning season.

I know this:  I’d love to see it – the Orioles playing a meaningful game – happen soon.  Next year would be great.  That’s not soon enough for me, but if it happens in 2011, I’ll be satisfied.

So, after four months of having their jaws wired shut, the Apologists are now back in full force.  You remember those folks, right?  They were the collective group of Fantasyland inhabitants who spouted off three years ago about how Andy was going to fix the franchise (evidently with magic, not money) and have watched in horror this season as the club has spiraled down the American League ladder.

Earlier in the year, Steve Melewski, an Employee-in-Law of the Orioles via his work at MASN, authored a piece in which he divided the (diminishing) Orioles fan base by basically saying, “you’re either with the team – and a fan – or you’re not with the team and you’re not a fan.”

Recently, a local blogger – Neal Shaffer – whom I respect as a writer and a diehard baseball enthusiast, tried taking a similar tact by writing his own piece in which he said, “those of you who have abandoned the team need to get back on right now…in the infancy of this re-birth…don’t wait around until the team gets REALLY good again or you’ll be considered a front-runner.”

Pardon my French, but what a bunch of bullsh*t that is.

Anyone in Baltimore who has abandoned the Orioles has done so with good reason.

They’ve done so not only because the O’s have lost for 13 straight years, but because the team has aggravated, alienated and almost intentionally disconnected with the fanbase that supported the team since the 1950′s.  They’ve done so because, while the on-field product has gone DOWN since 1998, prices and the expense of “supporting the team” has gone UP.  They’ve done so because the fans want the team to win more than the team itself wants to win.

The folks who really follow the club and have a keen eye for things like whether or not the organization is trying to win – and Neal Shaffer falls in that category – have figured out the game.  And they don’t want to play along anymore.

I don’t think it makes you a bad fan if you look at the landscape of baseball in Baltimore and say, “You know, I don’t think it’s worth giving them $24 to watch the game tonight at Camden Yards.”

The subject of “what makes you a bad fan?” is as controversial as asking folks who voted for Barrack Obama if they feel like they’ve contributed to the downfall of the country.  Lots of folks have a definition for “what makes a bad fan”.  Lots of people think they know what’s ruined the country. Everyone has their own idea(s).

Bad. Fan.

If you don’t sign off on 13 years of losing…and years and years of failing to spend money on quality free agents…and doing stupid stuff like charging people (who already AREN’T going) more money for tickets on the day of the game…that somehow makes you a BAD FAN.

No, it doesn’t.

In fact, I’d argue the exact opposite.

If you’re one of the last 3,300 in town who still fork over your money for tickets and applaud the team’s decision to NOT try and sign Mark Teixeira or Matt Holliday or A.J. Burnett — then I’d have to consider calling YOU a bad fan, for it’s people like you who have continued to keep the flame lit for the Orioles during this period of time where they’ve crawled into the fetal position and allowed the American League to force them into submission.

Maybe those who HAVEN’T stopped going to the games are the real people to blame.  Maybe those of you who give the team a free pass every off-season when they write themselves a big check instead of writing one to 3 or 4 good players are the ones to blame.  Maybe those of you who don’t have the balls to say, “this is crazy…you guys have to start running the team better or I’m not coming anymore” are to blame.

In fact, that argument is as silly as the one being made by the Apologists who say “you better get on board now or you’re a BAD FAN.”

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Former Showalter Players Say about Buck and O’s: “He’s The Perfect Guy For The Job”

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Former Showalter Players Say about Buck and O’s: “He’s The Perfect Guy For The Job”

Posted on 04 August 2010 by Ryan Chell

Buck Showalter
Now that the Buck Showalter era is off and about here in Baltimore, we might be able to finally put our faith in a manager who knows every facet of the game to every detail, and a micro-manager who may finally bring an end to thirteen years of losing and mediocrity for the Orioles.

Showalter, a two time Manager of the Year in his 11 year managerial career,  has had a huge influence on his players over the years, ranging from his time with the New York Yankees in the early 90′s to the Texas Rangers back in 2006.

Showalter has never won a World Series in his coaching career, but the first two teams he managed-the Yankees and the Diamondbacks-won World Series titles a year after he relieved of his duties.

And Showalter had a huge hand in the personnel-decisions of those teams, and  laid the groundwork for the teams to finally earn that elusive prize.

For the most part he laid the foundation there,” said Luis Gonzalez, who played in the outfield for Showalter in 1999 and 2000.  “And he brought the demeanor the guys had and the attitude to go out and win.”

Luis Gonzalez

“That’s just a fluke that he wasn’t there to win. For the most part, he deserves a lot of that credit because he was the guy who laid the groundwork for it.”

Showalter should deserve even more credit for his work with the Diamondbacks, given the fact that he took the manager’s job a year before the expansion team started even playing baseball, and he was the cook that got the ingredients together to make things right.

In fact, another one of his former players in Arizona, third baseman Matt Williams, said that an opportunity like that-to build a franchise from the ground up-was something that Showalter always wanted to try his hand at.

Matt Williams

And Williams feels like that makes his already stellar track record that much better.

“I think history proves it,” Williams said. “He managed the most storied franchises in all baseball before coming to the Diamondbacks in managing in the Yankees. And what a great situation that is.”

“But to come to the Diamondbacks as they were an expansion team, he loved that challenge clearly.”

And Williams saw first-hand how much work Showalter put into getting his team playing great, fundamental baseball.

“He is just all about the game,” Williams noted.  “The early years here, he had a bed installed in the office. The routine was he would prepare for the game that night, after the game he would watch the game in its entirety again, and often times fall asleep at the ballpark.”

“But the next day, there was never a hesitation as to who he was going to play, as to who he was going to pitch-hit against a certain guy, who he was calling on for a match-up with somebody off the opposing team’s bench…no hesitation. He is one of the most prepared managers I’ve ever played for.”

Ultimately, the Diamondbacks of 2001 that won the World Series under Bob Brenly-which beat his former club in the Yankees-were a product of the knowledge and hard work put in by one man: Buck Showalter.

“My experience with Buck was in this type of situation. He built an organization from scratch,” Williams said. “He was involved with every aspect of it, from managing the game on the field to choosing the players and the type of players that he wanted to build the organization to what it ultimately became.”

And Williams said that kind of dedication is desire is exactly what a franchise like the Orioles-stuck in a 13-year losing streak needs.

“He’s prepared, and that’s what you need in a situation like you guys have in Baltimore; to build the organization back where it should be. He’s the perfect guy for the job.”

Matt Nokes

And Showalter has been that way his whole managerial career.  Former Yankees and Orioles catcher Matt Nokes saw that out of a young Buck Showalter the minute he got started as a rookie manager at the big league level in 1992.

Buck and the Boss

Even having not played at the major league level thanks to a guy named Don Mattingly, he still had paid attention to the game around him and knew how he felt like it should be played.

And he seemed very knowledgeable right off the bat to guys like Nokes.

“He paid attention to the little things. He knows everything, and has a great baseball mind. He created an environment to have a good year, and he wanted us to play to the wall for him.”

Nokes also mentioned that Showalter said that he wasn’t going to baby his players. He wanted them to be responsible for themselves and them alone.

“He gave us the impression that we’re supposed to police ourselves and handle ourselves well,” Nokes said.

Known for his micro-managing and attention to detail, Showalter wanted his players to copy that formula, Nokes said.

Showalter would tell them numerous times that if they did the little things first and focused on that, the rewards would be great down the line due to their work.

“In a sense of being unfair, [it was him]demanding the most out of your ability. His rule was to take care of the small steps, and the big steps would take care of itself,” said Nokes.

Nokes said he saw him as a player’s manager despite some grumblings out there that he was a strict disciplinarian.

“Buck seems to me the kind of guy that I remember that I respect and he always treated me with respect. He had a way of calling you into his office…so that he could bring you back into your focus.”

That way of dealing with issues that he has with his players carried through his entire managerial career, from the Yankees to his last stint with the Texas Rangers.

One of those players that had saw an influence from Showalter in Texas was former top Orioles pitching prospect Matt Riley, who felt like he got a whole new look at the game based upon his brief time with Showalter.

Matt Riley

“With Buck, my time was short with him, but he really showed that he cared about his players. All he asked of you was that you go out and play hard every single day and play the game right. That’s all he asked of you.”

He kept a good relationship with his players while still allowing you to go out and play your game.”

Riley feels like he will have a tremendous impact on the young Orioles because he has the resume to back up his teaching, being around the game for this long.

“I think he’ll be great for the young guys because immediately he’ll gain the respect of all his players, because everyone knows Buck Showalter and his accolades in this game,” Riley added.

But the veterans on the Orioles should also take notice to Buck, because if they tune him out and don’t buy into his way of playing the game right, they’ll be needing a change of address form.

“If you didn’t play the game hard, and you didn’t play it the right way, he was going to say something to you, whether you were a veteran or a rookie guy. That’s one of the biggest things that stood out about Buck,” Riley continued.

Gonzalez had the same thing to say.

“And knowing Buck from playing for him in the past, he’s going to get on these guys. There’s no cake-walk with him. You’re going to know when you step out on the field that he wants you to play hard. If not, you’re going to find yourself sitting on the bench.”

Matt Williams said he wouldn’t expect anything else from a quality manager in this league, and he said Showalter was the best at doing that out of all the managers he had in his 16-year major league career.

“That’s ultimately what a manager is. A manager is somebody that gets their guys in the an opportunity to bring the best of their talents out, and if everybody can do that, you can create a winning ball-club,” Williams said, who came close to winning a couple more World Series’ with former Orioles manager Mike Hargrove as a member of the Cleveland Indians.

And for those out there that think Showalter is a stiff disciplinarian, former Rangers outfielder Doug Glanville shot down that rumor quickly.

Doug Glanville

“I loved playing for Buck,” Glanville said, who in reality only played half a season for Showalter before being traded to the Cubs. “I really enjoyed my year with Buck. He has a lot of smiles on his face. He is kind of like a straight face comedian.”

“As long as you’re professional, you’ll have a great time with him. He’s really easy to deal with. As long as you’re on time and play hard, he wont say a word.”

But when it comes to the game of baseball and getting the basics down first, that is where Showalter gets serious.

“But where he is no-nonsense is attention to detail. He doesn’t miss anything,” Glanville said.

Every player WNST talked to over the last two months said the Orioles found the perfect guy for the situation the franchise is in mired in right now, and they all thought Showalter was the perfect guy to get them out of the muck.

Because he’s done it before.

Every job he has taken, in his first year, the team has finished below .500. But the next year, the team sees immediate results, and is back to a competitive mindset-both mentally and in the standings.

  • 1992(NY): 76-86, 4th place; 1993: 88-74, 2nd place.
  • 1998(AZ)  65-97, 5th place; 1999 100-62, 1st place.
  • 2003(TX) 71-91, 4th place; 2004: 89-73, 3rd place.

Gonzalez says it may take longer for Baltimore than these teams, but ultimately Showalter should be able to put his mark on this team as he did with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Rangers.

“He will teach those guys, and the coaching staff he’ll bring in, and show them how to do it the right way, and I think that’s going to help out tremendously to that organization- an organization that has been around forever and has a great legacy of players who have gone and come through there.”

Buck Teaching the Players

Keep tuned into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to track the progress of Buck Showalter as the 17th Oriole Manager. WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Orioles Steal Thunder from Ravens, or At Least Try To

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Orioles Steal Thunder from Ravens, or At Least Try To

Posted on 29 July 2010 by Ryan Chell

Two weeks ago, my executive producer, Glenn Clark, in the midst of the Orioles in discussions with Buck Showalter to become the next Orioles manager, said that the Orioles were going to wait till the start of Ravens training camp to announce the decision.

He said the Orioles have done this before. In 2006, they announced the resigning of 3B Melvin Mora, who had actually signed his deal weeks before the news broke.

Angelos wants this team as the top dog in the city even if fans aren’t going to Oriole Park at Camden Yards anymore. He knows baseball season has ended in the last week of July for at least the last ten years.

Well lightning struck twice Thursday, as Tim Kurkjian of ESPN has reported that the Orioles have hired Showalter as manger of the team.

Buck Showalter

Showalter reportedly will take over the team from interim manager Juan Samuel on August 3rd when the Orioles take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to start a six-game home stand.

The Ravens open full-team practices on Friday morning at 8:45 at McDaniel College, with all veterans reporting and suiting up for hitting, tackling, and running routes.

We’ll have to wait and see what the water-cooler talk is tomorrow, and who is the Baltimore manager we should be paying the most attention to. Showalter or John Harbaugh?

John Harbaugh

Showalter and his 882-833 career record managing in the big leagues will fit right into the driver’s seat of the Orioles, and will try and stop the bleeding when it comes to this year’s Orioles team (31-70), which is off to its worst start in franchise history and is veering itself dangerously close to the worst teams ever to suit up and hit the field.

Showalter will be the third man in the manager’s seat this year for the Orioles, as he replaces Samuel (16-31) and Dave Trembley(15-39).

Showalter had been named AL Manager of the Year twice in his managerial career, once with the Yankees in 1995 and then with the Rangers a few years ago.

He has proven to turn teams around fast, as every one of the organizations he has managed-the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Rangers, all were terrible before Showalter took charge. He also has a hand in the front office aspect of the job, as he helped in the player personnel department with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and most recently had a small role with the Cleveland Indians before taking the broadcasting job at ESPN.

The Diamondbacks and Yankees both won World Series titles because of Showalter’s work; the only problem is that they hoisted the trophies one year after giving Showalter his walking papers.

He spent four years as Yankees manager (313-268), three seasons in Arizona (250-236), and (319-329) with Texas.

But with that, he eventually wears out his welcome. He has also had issues with the front office, as he is known as quite the control freak. That has been the main cause of his quick exits over the last dozen of years, and we’ll have to see if those problems arise again with the most meddling of owners in Peter Angelos and a attention-to-detail man like Andy MacPhail.

I would assume that Showalter would at least get three or four years on his contract to fix this team, because this team is not anywhere close to being competitive for at least two more seasons.

What Showalter does bring to the table is a man who has been around the league, and has garnered a lot of respect from players, coaches, and front office personnel.

He is the first high-profile, experienced managerial candidate the Orioles have introduced since the hiring of Mike Hargrove back in 2000.

With 13 straight losing seasons, talk around the league is that the Orioles are too deep into the cellar to attract any high profile free agents.

Having a big name like Buck Showalter in charge could put some of those doubts-not all-to rest.

It could maybe attract a player, like first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres, who played under Showalter from 2004-2005.

The players in Texas really like Showalter, and we should see soon how Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, and Matt Wieters all warm up to Buck.

But as said above, now we as Baltimore sports fans have a dilemma on our hands.

As the Orioles have put themselves on center stage (or at least tried to) yet again, we must ask ourselves. If we have a chance tomorrow to spend some time watching the Buck Showalter Introductory Press Conference, or the Ravens practicing, and we only have one choice…what’s it going to be?

The Orioles continue to show their selfishness by wanting you to choose baseball. Showalter could be the answer, but for now, let’s keep saying that John Harbaugh is still the top coach in town.

Tune into WNST and wnst.net as we continue to follow this new hire and hopefully a turning new page in Baltimore Orioles history!

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Wigginton A Fitting Orioles All Star

Posted on 13 July 2010 by Jay Trucker

A week ago the All Star break couldn’t arrive soon enough for the Orioles or Oriole fans. After a four game road sweep of the Texas Rangers, however, the break serves only to slow down the momentum that the team had finally built after its otherwise dismal first half.

When the Midsummer Classic airs Tuesday night, Ty Wigginton will stand in wearing an Orioles uniform. Visually, he will remind the nation where the worst team in baseball plays. Of course, there’s no guarantee he’ll be seen after the national anthem.

Last year, Adam Jones earned the title All Star. Don’t believe me? Just flip on MASN and wait for a commercial break.

Jones hit a sac fly in the late innings of last year’s game to help the AL once again trump the NL. A twenty-three year old the Orioles picked up via trade, Jones’ presence highlighted the Orioles as a team that was young, raw, talented, and potentially ready to take a big step forward. Not a product of the Orioles farm system, Jones nevertheless demonstrated that the club had young talent acquired by a savvy GM moving the team in the right direction.

2010 All Star Ty Wigginton is far from Andy MacPhail’s worst offseason pickup. After
a tough start to ’09, he finished the year hitting .273 with 11 home runs. He entered 2010 unsure of his position with the club and did not make an appearance in the opening series at Tampa. However, injuries and former 1B Garrett Atkins’ pathetic performance opened the door for Wigginton, who surprised critics by hitting 13 home runs before the end of May. Unfortunately, he has hit only one since.

At 32, Wigginton is neither young nor old in baseball age. He is heading towards the end of a modest two year deal with the Orioles, his fifth major league team. A utility player who has played six positions in the majors, Wigginton does a little bit of everything but nothing particularly memorably. He is a six or seven hitter batting cleanup. A guy who averages 400 at bats per year who already has 300 this season.
A decent player for the Mets, who promptly traded him when megastar David Wright was ready for the bigs. An afterthought, a fill in guy, a token gesture, a throwaway pick.

Wigginton is thus an appropriate player to represent the Orioles in the All Star game. Like Wigginton, at their best the Orioles are decent, inoffensive, adequate. They can surprise you here or there. Unlike Jones last year, Wigginton doesn’t represent a potentially bright future for the long-suffering O’s. He is just there. Maybe he plays. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he manages to hit a double in the gap, a single up the line, or heck, even work a timely walk. Maybe he sits at the end of the bench holding Miguel Cabrera’s helmet. Maybe he makes a late inning appearance and hits a weak grounder off a first pitch ball outside.

Nick Markakis may be more deserving of an All Star, but Ty Wigginton is an Orioles All Star. He may not have been the best guy, but he is the right guy to represent this particular team in this particular game. Like Jones last year, Wigginton could surprise on the big stage. And the Orioles may surprise a few people in the second half, as they did when they swept the Rangers.

That’s the thing about low expectation. As long as you have it, modest success is a pleasant surprise.

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Friday on “The Morning Reaction”

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Friday on “The Morning Reaction”

Posted on 09 July 2010 by Ryan Chell

Hey guys, Ryan Chell here filling in the big shoes, wearing the big pants for Glenn Clark today. I’m substitute teaching. I’m coming in from the bullpen. Off the bench. Just think of me as Chris Tillman, who most likely will be starting for the Orioles on Saturday in Kevin Millwood‘s spot in the rotation as he went on the DL earlier this week.

Chris Tillman

The phones are buzzing this morning, so I guess if I didn’t know how to answer phones here at WNST, I certainly know now. I wonder why they’re buzzing this morning…is it because the Orioles came back in the eighth last night to win against the Rangers, guaranteeing they have at least one pitcher with at least four wins before the All-Star break…?

Last night’s game had me worried at first. When Tommy Hunter had a number of strikeouts through three innings, it had the makings of an ugly game at the start. Good to finally see another team’s bullpen choke for once.

Tommy Hunter

And for David Hernandez to finally get four wins and have us escape history, it is a breath of fresh air to see that the Orioles will escape the bad side of the record books.

David Hernandez

But did you think that at this point in the season, David Hernandez would be leading the team in wins?

Ubaldo Jimenez won his 15th game of the season last night against Chris Carpenter and the Cards last night. A horrible series for the Cardinals to say the least, but man Jimenez has been outstanding this year.

Ubaldo Jimenez

He went 8 innings last night against the Cards in his 18th start of the year. He likely will get 14 more starts so he probably wont get to 30 wins, but he is likely to end the season with around 25, which would equate to half of the wins the O’s may have as a team at the end of the year-on his own. (Insert joke here O’s fans)

Baltimore Orioles struggling

And what’s even worse is that the rich get richer, as multiple media outlets are buzzing about the trade that might be happening between the Yankees and the Mariners involving Cliff Lee.

Cliff Lee

Lee pitches tonight against the Yanks, and given his track record lately, he is going to through a complete game. He’s already done it against the Yanks in the last couple of weeks. The proposed deal would be Lee going to the Yanks for top prospect Jesus Montero, who is slated to replace Jorge Posada behind the plate, and probably some other prospects.

That also may mean the end of the road for Javier Vazquez in New York (twice).

Javier Vazquez

Seriously though, with LeBron James making the decision last night to follow Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to Miami, another triumvirate has been built in the Eastern Conference. Miami’s Big Three is going to rival Boston’s Big Three in Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, and could immediately put Miami back on top, at least on paper right now.

The only issue is now, with these three max free agents coming in, the Heat are going to have to move some more payroll to fit under the cap. And it’s already begun, as the Heat are shipping local product Michael Beasley to the Timberwolves for a 2011 second round pick.

Michael Beasley

At this rate, Bosh, Wade and LeBron may be playing with this guy as opposed to top-5 draft talent like Beasley.

Bad Basketball

The buzz around the country, or at least in Cleveland, is just like it was 15 years ago, when the Browns left Cleveland to come here to be the Ravens in Baltimore. Art Modell is a curse word up there in Ohio now, and it’s a shame because that decision will probably keep Modell out of the Hall of Fame. Check out Nestor’s blog regarding the weight that may have just been lifted off Art’s shoulders…

Art Modell

I don’t think LeBron’s decision to go to Miami will keep him out of the basketball Hall of Fame though. And in reality, they are not the same. Modell moved the team out of Cleveland because he wasn’t getting support for the team; LeBron had all the support and backing from the fans.

Art did it for a money issue; LeBron left close to 30 million on the table by not signing with the Cavs.

But now we’re hearing it could be a money thing too, because Florida is one of seven states in the country with no state income tax.

And I’ll tell you what…talking about owners…Cleveland Owner Dan Gilbert’s letter to the fans regarding “King James” is some strong stuff, and it actually just popped up for me just trying to go to Clevelandcavaliers.com

Strong stuff. He’s got balls. The only issue is now, he doesn’t have any players.. We’ll see how good Moe Williams, Antawn Jamison, etc. are without James. It’s real simple. Without LeBron, the Cavs are just the Wizards up a little on the map latitude-wise.

Pete Caringi, soccer coach at UMBC, called into the show to talk about the World Cup Finale. He had Spain from the start, and to be honest, I think that’s the safe bet here.

David Villa

The game is on Sunday at 2:30. Tune into WNST and WNST.net for expanded coverage of the World Cup as this thing is almost done for another four years. Aww….

Walt Harris came on to talk with Drew about being around the league, and bringing his experience to the Ravens until Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington come back from their knee injuries. We are getting him at his best, as he is coming off a Pro Bowl year in 2006, when he had his first year with the Niners.

Walt Harris

Harris has actually been in the league for the same amount of time as Ray Lewis, and was actually drafted 12 picks in front of Ray in the 1996 Draft by the Chicago Bears.

Check the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault for his interview with Drew…it was a good chat…

We couldn’t get in contact with Len Elmore, but big props to Craig Calcaterra from NBC Sports-HardballTalk for moving around and being flexible with us. Good timing for him to come on, because he was able to give some light on this “maybe” trade of Cliff Lee to the Yankees that I eluded to earlier. Check the Audio Vault…

If this does happen, just hand the Yankees the trophy. I would say what a joke, but they are beating the system. If there was one team that I wanted to see get Lee, it was either the Rangers or the White Sox.

The Rangers have some good pitching this year( as evidenced by Tommy Hunter last night against the O’s) but a legitimate ace on the staff like Lee would probably give them an MVP candidate in Josh Hamilton, along with the Cy Young winner in Lee.

Josh Hamilton

And for the White Sox to be winning 23 out of their last 27 games or something like that, and now they’re losing Jake Peavy for the rest of the season, they needed someone like Lee to keep the ship afloat. Unless there is a big prospect to fill Peavy’s spot, the White Sox’s almost perfect pitching rotation took a big hit-at least until the trade deadline. Keep an eye out for what GM Kenny Williams is going to do-and what Ozzie Guillen will say about it afterward.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6tiHb5uxtw[/youtube]

To wrap up the show, Sean Deveney from The Sporting News came on to talk with Drew and Thyrl about this shift in power in the Eastern Conference. He gave us a lot of insight regarding the Heat’s moves from this point on, including reaching out to Mike Miller as a shooter.

But he did believe this was premeditated by LeBron, Wade, and Bosh as far back as the All-Star break, and this was the only serious option for “The King”.

Glenn will be back here on Monday, and all will be status quo. I’ll be sent back down to the minor leagues of sports radio on Monday, probably just like Tillman over the weekend when they don’t need that fifth starter.

Have a good weekend sports fans!

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LeBron’s Antics …. Should We Be Surprised ???

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LeBron’s Antics …. Should We Be Surprised ???

Posted on 09 July 2010 by Rex Snider

I was wrong …. DEAD WRONG. As the clock stroked 9:15pm, I was absolutely convinced LeBron James was headed back to Cleveland’s Cavaliers. After all, he dropped subtle hints, like referring to the Cavs as “our team,” and declaring that his mother was happy with the decision.

I should’ve really looked between the lines (and LIES) to see the obvious. Would ‘Bron’s Moms be happier spending her January’s and February’s on the icy shores of Lake Erie or the warm sands South Beach?

Hmmm ….. you tell me.
.


.
Okay, so maybe Mrs. Delonte West isn’t really worried about the fringe benefits of a winter solstace, in South Florida. However, I’ll bet LeBron has thought it over ….. and he likes what he envisions.

Good for him.

By the way, doesn’t LeBron have a family? Indeed, he does. LeBron Jr. is going to be six years old, in October. And, Bryce Maximus just turned four, last month. What’s best for the family?

Silly me, “King James” made it very clear ….. he talked to his mother and they concluded he needed to do “what’s best for ME.” And, according to him, the “Man Upstairs” is okay with it.

Shew ….. I certainly feel better. I was convinced the “Man Upstairs” is swamped with situations like OIL in the Gulf of Mexico …. unrest in the Middle East …. homeless earthquake victims in Haiti ….. and many more desperate souls.

Then again, wasn’t the “Man Upstairs” hovering over the Orioles dugout, in Arlington, late last night? How else can you explain such divine intervention?

You can lump me in with a few other notable ‘NST personalities; I’m not a devout NBA fan. Yeah, I’ll sporadically watch NBA games on a cold winter night, and my interest is piqued when the finals roll around, in June. But, that’s about it.

I grew up in a blue-collar city, without a pro basketball team. It is what it is …..

But, I think I’m old enough and wise enough to know the “American Story” when I see it – especially when it unfolds on the field of play …..
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I’ve witnessed humility and loyalty among many famous and wealthy souls. In life’s big picture, they haven’t allowed greed to numb their consience. Indeed, being rich and possessing the resulting power it wields is never a justifiable excuse for being selfish. But, that’s LeBron James …..

Last night, he showed me, you and the WORLD what’s really important to HIM. He may very well be the guy who loves himself more than Terrell Owens and Alex Rodriguez, combined.

Nice distinction, huh?

Over this past week, I’ve really experienced a heavy dose of LeBron’s self-promoting schemes. From his endorsement of pep rallies and organized pleas in other cities, to his acceptance of gifts and underhanded bribes, he has displayed a smug love of it all.

However, none of his past promotions could surpass last night’s “State Of The Selfish Star” address. Does he really have any idea what he’s done to a collective group of hardworking people who’ve loved and supported him?
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That’s what happens when a professional athlete establishes roots within a community and wears the city’s name across his chest. A “marriage” of sorts, is consummated.

Now, don’t misunderstand the spirit of my message ….. I recognize that marriages and relationships end eventually. And, I’m a CAPITALIST. I have no issue with the money he makes and his innovative means for creating more of it – as silly and egotistical as those ideas have been.

However, there is no prudent justification for hurting and embarrassing people – especially when they’ve adored you and been so instrumental in creating your wealth.

You wanna leave? Go ahead. But, there’s a way to do it. And, more importantly, there’s a way NOT to do it.

Of course, LeBron chose the latter.

Perhaps, he didn’t hold his WORLDWIDE PRESS CONFERENCE to intentionally humiliate Northern Ohio. Indeed, I think it’s safe to suggest he held the primetime special, because he wanted to do it. He wanted even more attention than he’s already received. And, he didn’t care about the residual effect on anyone.

Last night’s orchestrated media moment amounted to nothing more than a real-life scenario of a husband ditching his wife in public. It’s beyond insensitive. It’s wrong …..

It’s said that NFL, NBA and MLB owners are tight knit groups; each an exclusive club. Better yet, Baltimore Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti has publicly described other owners as his “partners.” I get that, I really do.

Thus, part of me believes the owners of the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls could’ve stopped last night’s conceited convention of one’s EGO. The King could’ve been dethroned ….. or at least publicly scolded.
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Collectively, those four teams could’ve united and basically said “you’re not going to publicly snub three of us.” They could’ve threatened to rescind their offers, if the ESPN Circus wasn’t canceled by 8pm. Instead, their desperation for his services and mystique overruled the strength of PARTNERS.

The individual soldiers should never be bigger than the army.

These teams allowed this entire process to be on LeBron James’ terms. Each owner pacified the situation with a reckless hope that he would choose THEM. And, just like a desperate spouse, who’ll do anything to save a marriage, the owners really served as LeBron’s enablers.

They allowed the legitimacy of their league to be reduced to an evening of WWE drama and storyline.

As Nestor has advertised in the upcoming BRUNO SAMMARTINO DINNER, “we all have a little bit of old school rasslin’ fan in us.” But, we also know it’s choreographed and as phony as an episode of Reno 911. But, last night, was not a fictional event.

And, a community suffers today.
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They’ll get over it. The sun will continue to rise each morning. The mortgage will still be due. And, life’s more important realities will take over, once again.

But, being a sports fan is a passionate endeavor. The heart gets involved. In an indirect way, your passion has led you to following the Ravens and Orioles, to visiting WNST.net and clicking on this blog.

Most of us don’t take sports too seriously, and that’s a real relief.

But, cities, towns and communities invest in athletes as symbols and ambassadors of the local culture. Do the athletes have an obligation? You bet …. if they take a dime in exchange for any such services. Or, if they’re really part of the neighborhood.

That’s what really astounds me in this whole LeBron James mess. He didn’t just breakup with Cleveland and Northern Ohio. He discarded his HOMETOWN in grand pompous galore. While it’s not even remotely similar, LeBron created a hybrid “Mayflower Van” moment for the people of Cleveland.

Does he care? Does he regret last night? Of course, not. The guy is way too self-absorbed with a bestowed sense of entitlement to ever consider the realities of how his actions impact anyone else. He’s beyond selfish.

While he had every justifiable reason to seek employment elsewhere (HE WAS A FREE AGENT), he absolutely went about the entire set of circumstances in the most improper way. He just laid a blueprint to serve as the ideal steps NOT to take when leaving a team.

He’s a bad guy.

He obviously cares about himself above anything and anyone else. He disregards humanity and good character in the name of doing as he desires. But, he’s not alone in the culpability.

LeBron James is surrounded by people who’ve obviously injected a perceived wisdom for making shrewd decisions. They’ve built him up, while convincing him of a false indestructible immortality. They’ve enabled his arrogance to grow to utterly flamboyant reaches …..
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They’re wrong. He’s not indestructible. He’s not above any of us …..

Think about it ….. in the span of less than 24 hours, LeBron James has transformed from a babyface to a heel. While the people of Miami may worship him, EVERYBODY else is looking at him for the selfish and indignant dude he’s proving to be.

True character eventually surfaces. And, in the life of LeBron James, the public disclosure just took 25 short years.

Aside from the mansions, luxury cars and huge piles of money, LeBron may never acquire some of life’s most invaluable treasures. He may never really learn and appreciate the lessons savored by a common man …..

BE GOOD TO OTHERS

GO OUT OF YOUR WAY NOT TO HURT PEOPLE, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY

PUT YOUR FAMILY AHEAD OF YOURSELF

LeBron James may never really understand these human traits and values. He is so insulated from reality that his perceptions obviously contradict with anything attached to selflessness. But, are we really surprised?

After all, he is what he is …..

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American League’s Award Winners – 1st Half

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American League’s Award Winners – 1st Half

Posted on 07 July 2010 by Rex Snider

As the Orioles took the field for a Monday matinee against the Tigers, it officially marked the second half of the season. That’s right, forget about the All Star break – Monday’s game was the 82nd of the year. Thus, we’re mathematically HALFWAY thru this debacle.

This 2010 season has been nothing less than a grand disappointment for anyone who loves Baltimore baseball. To borrow a quote and “twist” from Dumb & Dumber ….. “just when I thought they couldn’t be any worse – they go out and totally redeem themselves.”

Indeed, as I said during yesterday’s show, it’s just gonna be one of the typical July’s we’ve endured over the last decade ….. SWELTERING TEMPERATURES, DYING GRASS and BAD BASEBALL.

I suppose the good news, beyond being one day closer to the start of Ravens Training Camp, is Major League Baseball’s season is shaping up to be very competitive ….. outside the typical ghettos of Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cleveland and BALTIMORE.

And, lets not forget Arizona – they’re just an Orioles hot streak away from being baseball’s worst franchise. Don’t worry, it won’t happen.

There’s even a buzz on the shores of the Potomac River, as they await a dozen more starts by Stephen Strasburg and the ultimate signing of his offensive contemporary, Bryce Harper.

In fact, the current baseball season has been pretty exciting …..

The A.L. East is shaping up to be a dog fight …..

The A.L Central, N.L. East and N.L. West will probably be settled late in the season, as well …..

The San Diego Padres have been an enthusiastic surprise …..

The Texas Rangers are killing the ball and pitching decently, even if they’re BROKE …..

This leads me to the spirit of the blog; certain players are having outstanding seasons, as well. Some of these feats were predicted and some have certainly been pleasant surprises. Below, find my choices for the A.L. individual awards – albeit, halfway through the season …..

Rookie Of The Year

Many of us honestly believed Brian Matusz was a contender for this award, as we pined with enthusiasm, in March. We should’ve really dissected the circumstances …..

He is pitching for a ballclub that hasn’t enjoyed a winning season, since 1997. He’ll face the A.L. East for a substantial amount of starts. He’s a ROOKIE and he’ll make mistakes – most likely against teams that will make him pay. That said, I think he’s held his own.

At this point, I would select Detroit Tigers outfielder, Austin Jackson, as the first half’s best rookie. Acquired in the Curtis Granderson deal, Jackson has anchored the leadoff spot for the Tigers lineup and he’s certainly been a spark plug for their surprising offensive attack.
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His stats so far – .305 avg., 91 hits, 13 sb, .353 OBP, .295 avg. leading off game, .995 field% (1 error)

Not bad for a rookie centerfielder, huh? Admittedly, Detroit’s other rookie outfielder, Brennan Boesch, would be a fitting choice, as well. He’s tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .344, with a dozen dingers. However, he’s played roughly 75% of the first half and he’s made his share of errors. I simply think Austin Jackson has been a more distinct influence over the Tigers lineup.

As for the season’s second half, keep an eye on Boston’s Daniel Bard, as well as Cleveland’s Carlos Santana. Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch will have some company for the real “Rookie Of The Year” award.
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Cy Young

This is not an easy one to call, and it really boils down to two pitchers. In making my choice, I’m going with the guy who’s lent his performances to keeping the team in contention. He’s also been healthy the entire first half and his numbers are damn impressive. Yet, he’s NOT AN ALL STAR. Can someone please explain how three Yankees starters, Sabathia, Pettitte and Hughes make the team and Jered Weaver sits home? Ahh …. Joe Girardi. Gotcha. Weaver is the first half’s best pitcher …..
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I certainly considered Cliff Lee. But, it’s hard to justify selecting a pitcher who started the season on the DL, as the premier hurler of the first half. He has been dominant in May and June, but Weaver pretty much excelled throughout the entire first half. However, if Lee remains with the Mariners throughout the remainder of the season, I can envision him surpassing Weaver’s overall performance.

In the season’s second half, I’ll be watching for the likes of Sabathia, Jon Lester and David Price to join the conversation. I’ll also be expecting a step back for Trevor Cahill and Hughes.
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Most Valuable Player

This an interesting call. I suppose a generous handful of possible candidates can be considered viable. But, I’m really narrowing it down to two players. Ironically, they share some similarities; they’ve fought back from substance abuse problems, they’re contending for possible TRIPLE CROWN credentials and their teams are in first place. However, I’ll give the edge to Miguel Cabrera …..
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He plays in a pitcher’s ballpark. Yet, he’s amassed phenomenal first half numbers – .339 avg., 100 hits, 20 hr, 26 doubles, 71 rbi !!!! That said, Texas outfielder, Josh Hamilton makes it an argument. He’s enjoying a great first half, too – .340 avg, 108 hits, 20 hr, 23 doubles, 68 rbi and a handful steals. However, Hamilton plays in the launching pad known as The Ballpark In Arlington, and I think it makes a difference.

I’m a self-confessed Josh Hamilton fan. He’s probably my favorite ballplayer in today’s game – next to Nick Markakis, of course. I’ve witnessed the hell of heroin addiction and I think Hamilton is living proof of a true comeback. But, I think Cabrera has been a tad bit better in the first few months of the season.

As for the second half, I believe Ichiro (.326, 110 hits, 22 sb), Alex Rios (.300, 13 hr, 22 sb) and Justin Morneau (.344, 100 hits, 17 hr) can make it an interesting race. Nevertheless, there are GREAT performances in store.

Hmmm ….. NO ORIOLES. Imagine that …..

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A Look at Potential O’s Managerial Candidates

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A Look at Potential O’s Managerial Candidates

Posted on 10 June 2010 by Ryan Chell

Dave Trembley is out as Orioles manager, and Juan Samuel is in as interim manager for the time being. But the key word there is interim, and Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos are already hard at working at bringing in about a dozen candidates to come in and interview for the job. No one is sure if these candidates would be hired immediately this season, or if it’s a process that will work itself out into the off-season and into next year.

Given the Orioles recent trend of hiring mangers with little to no managerial experience on the big league level( Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo, Dave Trembley), you would think that Orioles management would want to bring in a manager with some success  in the past. Some on this list have brought their teams a World Series title, or built a team up that eventually won a championship.

But the list of potential Orioles managers also includes those familiar with this organization, minor league coaches on the rise, and some who are guys that might have an ability to light a fire under these players. A former Oriole, like Rick Dempsey or B.J. Surhoff could be an option as well, in the hopes that they could return the team to the good old days and the “Oriole Way”.

Experienced Managers

1. Larry Bowa (418-435 as a manger)

Larry Bowa

The former Phillies and Padres manager is currently the third base coach for Joe Torre’s Dodgers. He last managed for the Phillies back in 2004, where he was the manager for four seasons. During that time, he was 337-308 with Philadelphia, including winning the Manager of the Year award in 2002 for bringing the Phillies within two games of winning the division after the team finished last the year previously.

As a player, he was a five-time all-star shortstop and a two-time Gold Glove winner, playing mostly for Philadelphia during his 15-year career. He along with Don Mattingly will be one of several Dodger assistant coaches the Orioles may take a look at for their managerial position.

2. Phil Garner (985-1054)

Phil Garner

Phil Garner has been around the block when it comes to managing in the big leagues, managing close to 2000 games. He is very competitive and has that fiery attitude that Orioles ownership might be be looking for in a manager. He played on the 1979 Pirates World Championship team that defeated the Orioles, and recently he saved the Astros’ 2005 season  by taking them to the World Series but they got swept by the Chicago White Sox. He has manged in both leagues, but he is probably a better fit in the National League.

3. Bobby Valentine (1117-1072)

Bobby Valentine

He is an early favorite for the coaching job, but he hasn’t managed in the majors since 2002 with the Mets. Including his managerial time with New York, who he took to one NLCS and World Series, and the Rangers, he also has manged the Norfolk Tides when they were the Mets’ Triple A team and had two stints over in Japan. His career record with the Mets is not bad (536-467). He is a player’s manager, but he also is a bit of a character as well. Everyone remembers when he got thrown out of a game, and came back from the clubhouse with a clever disguise.

Bobby Valentine

4. Buck Showalter (882-833)

Buck Showalter

A two-time AL Manager of the Year, he has manged the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Rangers in his 14-year managerial career. He has turned around losing teams fast, and was probably the most successful during his time with the Yankees (313-268). He was hired two seasons before the expansion D-backs began playing to build the team on a personnel stage. He never played in the majors thanks to former teammate Don Mattingly, who was at first base when he was coming up in the minors. His only issues? He has had problems in the past with ownership, and is kind of a control freak.

The other funny thing? Both the Yankees and the D-backs won the World Series the year after he left. Maybe the O’s should just sign him for a year, then fire him, and expect a title the following year if the trend continues.

Another thing working in his favor? He used to work with the great Yankee Assistant to the Traveling Secretary George Constanza

Buck Showalter with Assistant to the Traveling Secretary, George Constanza.

5. Davey Johnson (1148-888)

Davey Johnson

Oriole fans know this man well. A former second baseman (1965-1972, 3 Gold Gloves and All-Star selections) and manager for the O’s, he has won three World Series in his career, two with the O’s as a player and one managing the Mets in 1986, thanks to some guy named Bill Buckner.

Bill Buckner

During his 14 year managerial career, his only losing campaign was in his second-to-last season with the Dodgers. He reached the league championship series five times in his career, including two with Baltimore in 1996 and 1997. After his MLB managerial career ended, he also served time as the US Manager in the World Baseball Classic and is currently an adviser for the Nationals.

The problems standing in his way to a return to the O’s? He has fought with owners before, including Reds owner Marge Schott and the much publicized tussle he had with Peter Angelos after the ’97 season. If Angelos were to stay away from Davey, he could be back in an Oriole uniform.

6. Bob Melvin (493-508)

Bob Melvin

Melvin, a former backup catcher with the O’s, recently was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played ten seasons in the majors, including three with Baltimore. He won 93 games with Seattle in his first year managing, and then after moving on to Arizona, he brought the D-backs an NL West title in 2007 and earned himself Manager of the Year honors. His hiring would be a combination of a fiery attitude, a former Oriole, and a man who knows baseball. He is currently a scout for the Mets organization.

7. Eric Wedge (561-573)
Eric Wedge

Wedge has been another name that has been mentioned a lot. His rise through the minor leagues in Cleveland was well-documented, as he was a 3-time Manager of the Year in different levels of the Indians organization. In 2001, he led the Triple A Buffalo Bisons to a 91-51 record. In 2002, at the age of 34, he was named the Indians’ 39th manager, and in 2005, he led the Indians to a 93-69 record, eighth best in franchise history.

He was runner-up for Manager of the Year, losing to AL Central rival, Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox. He saw success two years later again in 2007, when he led the Indians to a 96-66 record, winning the AL Central for the first time since 2001. They lost in the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox, who eventually went on to win the World Series. His problem? He needs good players around him in order to succeed.

8. Tom Kelly (1140-1244)
Tom Kelly

Andy MacPhail’s manager in Minnesota, where he won two World Series titles. He was only 36 years old when he was named manager of the Twins. The results? From 1986-1992, the Twins were one of the best teams in the league, winning those two World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. Kelly won the Manager of the Year award in that 1991 season. However, with star players like Kirby Puckett retiring and injuries plaguing the team, the Twins only saw two winning seasons from 1992 to 2001, his last in Minnesota. MacPhail would love to bring Kelly back for a reunion, but Kelly has already said that he’s not interested in managing, and he has been away from the game for quite some time.

“The Assistants”

1. Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg

Sandberg is an intriguing candidate for so many reasons. Sandberg does not have any major league managing experience, but he is familiar with Andy MacPhail as a player and as coach. He was the Cubs 2B for 14 seasons, was a 10x All-Star, won 9 Gold Gloves, and was the MVP of the 1984 season for the National League. He has manged every level of the Cubs’ organization and has quickly rose through the ranks.

He actually interviewed for the Cubs job back in 2006, and lobbied to be the manger, losing to Lou Piniella. Piniella thinks that the job is his when he is no longer the manager. The Cubs connection is probably a big hint that Andy MacPhail is going to be calling him regarding the O’s job. I’d keep an eye out on him, because if he doesn’t come here, he is either going to be the next Cubs manager or managing somewhere else.

2. Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly

Joe Torre’s protege for the last several years, Mattingly started out as a special instructor for the Yankees after retiring in 1995. He served in that role till 2003, when he was named the team’s hitting coach under Torre. In 2004, the Yankees set a franchise record in home runs with 242. After Lee Mazzilli left to manage the O’s in 2006, he replaced him as Torre’s bench coach.

Then, when Torre was fired by George Steinbrenner three years ago, he was considered the front runner for the job and interviewed for it. Instead, Joe Girardi was hired and Mattingly followed Torre to LA, serving the same role with the Dodgers. He is considered one of the top assistant coaches in the league and will be a manager somewhere soon.

3. Gary Allenson
Gary Allenson

The O’s Triple A manger was recently called up to be the third base coach when Juan Samuel moved into Trembley’s seat. He has been with the organization for years, including managing the Ottawa Lynx in 2003(79-65), the rookie level Bluefield Orioles in 2006 (31-37), and he has been the Tides’ manager since 2006, posting a 228-254 record over that span. He is another manager with attitude, but I would think there would be other candidates looked at before Allenson.

4. Jeff Datz
Jeff Datz
The current O’s bench coach spent nine years as an assistant for the Indians, where he was a big favorite of the players, especially Grady Sizemore, who had Datz pitch to him in the Home Run Derby a few years back. Again, I think others would be given a shot before Datz.

5. Juan Samuel
Juan Samuel

The Orioles could do what they have done in the past, where they just name the interim manager the permanent manager. He had been the Orioles 3B coach since 2006, and before that managed the Mets’ Double A team. He actually played against the Orioles in the 1983 World Series for the Phillies. If they are smart, the Orioles will not hire the interim manager a third time in a row.

6. Brad Komminsk

Brad Komminsk

Komminsk is currently the manager of the Bowie Baysox. A former Top 5 pick of the Atlanta Braves when he was a player, he spent seven seasons managing in the Cleveland organization, winning Carolina League Manager of the Year in 2001. The team he led during that time was the Kinston Indians to a 89-51 record.

Oriole Greats

1. Rick Dempsey
Rick Dempsey
If wanting the job the most was the qualifications for the manager’s position, Dempsey would win. The 1983 World Series MVP has lobbied for the job four times. and has been passed over time after time. He has spent 43 years in baseball, including 24 as a player. He has been a coach for the Orioles, and has managed at the minor league level for the Mets and the Dodgers. He currently serves as a studio analyst for MASN, and the last time he coached was 2006.

2. BJ Surhoff
BJ Surhoff
His passion for the Orioles, evidenced by when he cried after being traded to the Braves in the late 1990′s, is something maybe the Orioles could use in an effort to get things turned around.

3. Bill Ripken

Bill Ripken
Bill Ripken, now an owner of the Aberdeen Ironbirds, has little to no coaching experience, other than being the first base coach for the USA team in the WBC. Those that want a Ripken in the manager’s chair might have to be happy with Bill.

Tune into “The Morning Reaction” on 1570 WNST for more info regarding the Orioles’ managerial search!

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Trading For Prospects Does Work …..

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Trading For Prospects Does Work …..

Posted on 09 June 2010 by Rex Snider

I’ll be the first guy to admit that Nick Markakis has no clue of my existence on this earth. But, if he did, what would his opinion of my OPINIONS be ???

While he seems like an aloof, free spirit, Nick also gives me the impression that he’s a straight-shooter and capable of an honest appraisal of his personal efforts.

Thus, I really do wonder how he sees himself and his overall contributions, as he settles into the thick of his fifth full season in the big leagues. Is he satisfied with his overall achievements? At 26, does he feel his game is still improving? Does he feel that he’s living up to the $66 million contract?

These are fair questions.

I’d bet his honest impression is that he expects more from himself. Indeed, this is one of those situations where the fans are less critical of the player’s contributions. But, as we know, Baltimore fans love themselves some Markakis !!!!

If he’s so indispensable, why hasn’t Nick been an All Star ….. on such a crappy team full of “stopgaps” and “never were’s” ??? Where are the Gold Gloves ??? How about the occasional vote for MVP ??? Better yet, has he led the American League in ANYTHING ??? Yep – games played, in 2009. Congratulations …..

Of course, I’m being sarcastic. Nick Markakis is a good, durable ballplayer. He is not the problem for this team.

However, I still stand by my argument that his value can be a marketable commodity for a team that must start taking chances and calculated risks.

And, no, I don’t buy into the EXCUSES regarding a lack of bats surrounding Nick Markakis. The whole “they’re pitching around him” argument is an overblown consideration.

If opposing pitchers were truly pitching around him, he would be piling up the walks, right? He undoubtedly has the best eye and most disciplined stick on the team. Yet, throughout his career he’s only walked 294 times in 2908 plate appearances (-37 SAC, HBP, etc.) …..

Yup, the math says that’s a blistering 10% of the time. But, to be fair, he’s walking in 14% of his plate appearances, in 2010.

What does this suggest? PITCHERS ARE NOT PITCHING AROUND NICK MARKAKIS. In fact, they’re pitching to him !!!! He’s seeing plenty of pitches to hit …..

He’s Nick Markakis ….. not Albert Pujols.

Got it?

Once again, he’s a damn good ballplayer. He’s a nice complimentary member of a lineup. But, he’s far from being untouchable. His value should be gauged during the upcoming off-season.

In last week’s blog, I was clear on my feelings – any deal for Nick Markakis must yield “Major League Ready” prospects, not kids getting their feet wet at the AA level.

A few remarks by readers suggested that acquiring PROSPECTS “equates to setting the ballclub back.” Really? Are they on the verge of contention?

the common thought among many fans is trading for prospects is a GREAT UNKNOWN. While I think that’s partly true, the risk is certainly minimized by ensuring the prospective players have utilized tools and succeeded at every level.

No, I’m not gonna drop the “Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee” trade, again. But, here’s a few more STARS FOR PROSPECTS deals that worked out …..

2005 – Josh Beckett & Mike Lowell for Hanley Ramirez & Anibal Sanchez

This is one of those deals that has certainly benefited both teams. Beckett and Lowell helped deliver a World Series Championship and have been part of making the Red Sox a consistent contender.

Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez has quietly become one of the game’s best players.
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And, Anibal Sanchez is one of the National League’s most impressive young pitchers.

Who got the better end of the deal? In the long term, and if they keep the players, it looks like the Marlins probably realized the greater return. But, the Red Sox have their World Championship trophy. Regardless, the Marlins clearly benefited from dealing Beckett and Lowell.
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1991 – Glenn Davis for Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch & Steve Finley

Still hurts, huh? Some folks actually wonder about the long term damage this deal had on the Orioles. Imagine Curt Schilling spending his career in an Orioles uniform. Sorry, the vision we’ll all remember is far for damning …..
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Glenn Davis is still a bad topic for discussion in this town.
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1992 – George Bell for Sammy Sosa & Ken Patterson

Regardless of all the drama surrounding Sammy Sosa’s steroids usage, he became a bonafide slugger with the Cubs. He put hineys in the seats and made the Cubbies a contender.
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On the flip side, the White Sox wanted a slugging outfielder and Bell seemed to fit the bill. Umm ….. bad move.
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1982 – Ivan DeJesus for Larry Bowa & Ryne Sandberg

When the trade occurred, DeJesus was one of the best shortstops in the game. Although, he was the prototypical “Pre-Ripken” player. But, the 22 year old kid with “Sandberg” across his back would end up being the steal of the deal. He switched to 2nd base and today, he’s got a plaque in Cooperstown …..
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Do you think Phillies fans stil regret losing Sandberg? Well, just ask “Mike in Chase”.
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2003 – AJ Pierzynski for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano & Boof Bonser

The Twins swallowed their pride and traded the 26 year old Pierzynski, following three full seasons of a compiled .301 batting average and 30+ doubles. Not bad for a young backstop, huh? Pierzynski did not disappoint and he’s had a very solid Major League career.

Nathan and Liriano, on the other hand, have become dominating pitchers. Joe Nathan saved ONE GAME before joining the Twins. And, Francisco Liriano, is now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and nearing the explosive arsenal witnessed during his rookie campaign, in 2006 ….
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How is the TRADING FOR PROSPECTS idea working out for the Twinkies ???
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2008 – Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Tony Butler & Kam Mickolio

The O’s parted ways with one of the American League’s best starting pitchers during Andy MacPhail’s first off-season. At 28, Bedard has lived up to his fragile makeup and “soft heart” while spending most of his Seattle tenure on the disbaled list.

Meanwhile, Adam Jones has emerged into a starting centerfielder for the Orioles. Yeah, say what you want about Jones, but he’s exhibited the characteristics of a formidable big leaguer. Sherrill was an All Star for the Orioles, and Tillman is still regarded as a prime prospect. Of the handful of players, I still think Jones will have a very nice career …..
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2007 – Mark Teixeira for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus & Matt Harrison

On the surface, you might think “the Braves HOSED the Rangers”. Well, if you’re just considering Saltalamacchia, who appears to be a BUST, I can see the point. However, the Rangers hauled in much more …..
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Neftali Feliz has emerged as the Rangers closer, converting 15 saves, with a 2.73 ERA and ultra impressive 0.94 WHIP, along with 28 strikeouts in 26 innings. Feliz throws extremely hard (has hit 100+) and benefits from a power breaking ball and nice changeup. Oh yeah, he’s 21 years old.
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The other prime contributor from the trade is Elvis Andrus. He seized the starting shortstop job as a rookie, in 2009. He’s currently hitting .311, with 18 stolen bases. Like Feliz, Andrus is only 21 years old, as well.

When this trade took place, Rangers owner, Tom Hicks, defended it by insisting he couldn’t afford to re-sign Teixeira. Well, just 3 years removed, the Rangers are bankrupt and being operated under the domain of Major League Baseball. I guess Hicks wasn’t lying, huh?

As for Teixeira, the Braves turned around and dealt him before the 2008 non-waiver deadline. And, the Angels let him walk after the 2008 season. While I don’t argue his legitimate presence in a lineup, the Rangers got a good return for him.

So, what do these trades have to do with Nick Markakis? Well, they represent PROOF that acquiring legitimate, blue chip prospects for proven Major League players does work more often than on an “occasional” basis.

Once again, I don’t want to do anything rash regarding Markakis, but he might just bring a nice package of young guys (and I don’t mean Josh Bell types) to play here for years to come. Then again, a proposed deal might fail – plenty of those trades exist, too.

But, the Orioles are a miserable 16-42 – NOTHING should be off the table.

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Former MLB GM John Hart: “Any Organization Would Like [Machado]“

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Former MLB GM John Hart: “Any Organization Would Like [Machado]“

Posted on 07 June 2010 by Ryan Chell

Former Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers general manager John Hart has a great track record as a baseball executive in the majors, and built those two franchises into winners. He joined Drew Forrester and Glenn Clark here on WNST 1570 to talk about today’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, and how Baltimore’s rebuilding franchise should go in the draft in an effort to keep building up the franchise to get it back to its winning ways.

 Former Rangers and Indians GM John Hart knows how to build a winning program, and passed on his knowledge to us.

Hart, who took over the Cleveland Indians in 1991, was at the helm for nine years, and during that time the Indians won six of the possible nine American League central championships and made appearances in the World Series in 1995 and 1997. The list of players on those teams were outstanding including Kenny Lofton, Jose Mesa, Sandy Alomar Jr, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez, Eddie Murray, Jim Thome,  Orel Hershiser and Hart was one of the integral parts in keeping that team together for the time they were in Cleveland.

During his time in Cleveland, Hart was 870-681 as GM of the team and was outs away from winning two World Series. Now, he serves as a studio analyst for the MLB Network, and looking at this year’s draft, he weighed in to Drew and Glenn about the top picks in the draft this year, and if he were to make the decisions here in Baltimore, he said that the Orioles are going to like whoever falls to them behind Bryce Harper going to the Nationals and whoever the Pirates take with the #2 pick.

He first weighed in on Brito High (Miami) shortstop Manny Machado, who has drawn comparisons to Alex Rodriguez coming into the league. While Hart said the A-Rod comparisons aren’t fair, he said that he does have legitimate power and compares him more to a big, powerful hitter out in Colorado, Troy Tulowitzki.

“Machado is an infielder with a bat and power,” Hart said. “He’s only going to fill out and he’s got a lot of room to grow. Any organization would like this kid.”

Hart said that when Machado finally does fill out, he probably will be your stereotypical 6’4”, 215 lb. hitter who has a chance to stay at shortstop for a few years until a move to third or the outfield is likely.

With that kind of talent, the Pirates are likely to take Machado. And with Orioles GM Andy MacPhail’s philosophy of “buying the bats and growing the arms”, the next best option for the Orioles at the 3rd spot in the draft is Woodlands High (Texas) pitcher Jameson Taillon.

Taillon, 18, is a tall, intimidating right hander who stands at 6’7”, 230 pounds and has four plus pitches in his repertoire.  This guy could be a front-of-the-line rotation guy in a couple years, and pairing him with Hobgood in last year’s draft along with maybe Tillman, Matusz, and Arrieta could give the Orioles one of the best rotations in all baseball if they all pan out, which is not certain.

But Hart says this is certain: Taillon is the real deal.

“I tell you the scouts I’ve talked to said he is one of the top four amateur high school pitchers they’ve ever seen,” Hart said. “He’s going to pitch with a plus fastball… and he’s got a great makeup. He’s a guy you can anchor any staff around, and he’s got front of the rotation stuff.”

But Hart did leave us with this. He said that it’s probably better for GMs to wait on the high school guys till later on in the draft, and most GMs already follow that policy because they want the players up in the big leagues as soon as possible. Hart says to look for the  guy that will give you “the most impact”, and then a GM can look on their draft with success.

But it will take a few years to figure out if a draft will work or not.

Listen live to Drew Forrester and Glenn Clark on WNST 1570 AM for the “The Morning Reaction” Monday through Friday!

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