Shame on you, Baltimore, for bashing Brian Roberts

January 14, 2012 | Drew Forrester

And you know, for a friggin’ fact, those questions are EXACTLY what Roberts would hear in Baltimore next Saturday.  For about six straight hours.

“When you comin’ back?”, “When you comin’ back?”, “When you comin’ back?”, “When you comin’ back?”, “When you comin’ back?”, “When you comin’ back?”

Now, it IS fair to wonder whether or not the Orioles are obligated to pay Brian Roberts the $20 million they owe him over the next two seasons if, unfortunately, he’s not able to play baseball anymore.  That issue gets put on the table due to the fact that Roberts initiated the concussion by conking himself in the helmet with a bat after striking out in a September, 2010 game.

I’ve heard some people around town opine that the 2nd baseman should elect to not receive his paycheck if he can no longer play, despite the fact that his salary through 2013 is guaranteed.

Sure, lots of people would just hand back $20 million.

It’s easy to sit in our recliner in Perry Hall or Owings Mills or Federal Hill and say, “I can’t believe Roberts has the stones to take those paychecks for the next two years…I wouldn’t do it.”

I don’t know what I would do.  And that’s the truth.  I’m not making a judgment on Roberts and his decision to have the club pay him over the next two years.  I’d like to say that maybe I’d at least offer the club a chance to make me some sort of counter-offer, say, perhaps $10 million in salary and a couple of million to a local hospital or children’s center.  But the minute that gets made public, the scumbags at the Player’s Association start ringing my cell phone like crazy reminding me that any decision I make could affect all the other players in the league who face similar injury-related circumstances.

It’s easy to say Brian Roberts shouldn’t take the $20 million.  It’s easy to say because you’re not the one faced with that decision.

It’s not $20,000.

It’s $20 million.

And there’s always the thought that Roberts deserves it for putting up with the s**tty way the Orioles have run their organization over the last decade.

Frankly, he probably deserves $40 million for putting up with it all.

But the reality of the whole situation is simple.  Brian Roberts isn’t jaking it.  He’d give anything to not wake up anymore in half-a-fog and report to the ballpark, even if he was showing up for one of the 95 losses he annually endures playing for a team that hasn’t tried to win since he joined the big league club in 2001.

In case you haven’t followed the Orioles – and based on the attendance, you probably haven’t – Roberts has been the team’s best total contributor, factoring in ON and OFF field duties, for a decade now.  He’s one of the rare players who has actually put in a honest effort in the community and his play, before the concussion, was always consistent and inspiring.

He deserves much better than to have his integrity questioned about this brain injury he’s dealing with, that’s for sure.

(And yes, before some wise-ass makes a comment, I’m very aware Brian Roberts admitted to experimenting with steroids.  So did about 500 other players in the game, even though most of them didn’t have the guts to admit to it like Roberts did.)

I hope Brian Roberts is able to make it back and play someday at Camden Yards.

He deserves another shot at playing the game he loves.

But if fate somehow throws him a 3-2 slider that catches the edge of the plate and he can’t play anymore, I know one thing for sure.

Roberts doesn’t want it that way.  He’d rather earn his money and return to the game he loves.

Let’s hope it all works out.

Brian Roberts deserves good things to happen to him.