Tag Archive | "Roberto Alomar"

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 7) – Wren not zen, a Ray of darkness and Frank malaise sets over Orioles

Posted on 04 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 7 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend who loves the team.)

 

7. Wren was not Zen: A Ray of darkness and a Frank malaise casts franchise adrift

 

“He called me and told me the pitching coach should be the manager’s prerogative. We tried his prerogative. It didn’t work. I don’t think he ever got over that.”

 – Peter Angelos (re: Davey Johnson) in  December 1997

 

WHEN THE DAVEY JOHNSON VS. Peter Angelos divorce letters finally hit The Washington Post – after two weeks of “he said, he said” – the newspaper literally just published the two faxes next to each other and let the fans and sportswriters read between the lines – the children, in this case the fans, were left behind in the nasty public divorce.

Angelos and Johnson simply let the peanut gallery and sportswriters pick a side after the split. And, now, just four years after buying the Orioles and seeking his fourth manager, Angelos was beginning to lose his initial honeymoon popularity and Johnson would be become a martyr to the team’s fan base for years to come.

Davey Johnson had his own demons entering the relationship and had a well-established, anti-establishment, competitive arrogance that he brought into every room. But, most folks around the 1986 New York Mets’ magical World Series run would tell you that the manager whose nickname was “Dumb Dumb” was actually always the smartest guy in the room. And Peter G. Angelos was developing a well-earned reputation as a supreme meddler, an intimidating life force and a bad guy to work for in Major League Baseball. He was making the antics of George Steinbrenner circa 1978 look like a sick, reprised role in Baltimore.

In the spring of 1998, with Johnson still unemployed after walking away from a $750,000 job and the third year of his

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 6) – Wire to Wire, champagne and the Dumb Dumb divorce

Posted on 04 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 6 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 4 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

Chapter 13 is available here.

 

6. Wire to wire, champagne and the Dumb Dumb divorce

 

“There is no threat he’s going to lose his job. He has a contract that is binding, and I plan to fulfill the conditions of that contract. One thing is for certain: I have never said that Davey (Johnson) would be fired. I have never said he had to get to the World Series to keep his job. Yet the focus of this is on me. That I don’t understand. None of this has come from Peter Angelos.”

 

Peter G. Angelos – October 24, 1997

 

IN 1997, SOMEHOW, AMIDST ALL of the chaos, drama and incredible mixed emotions of the fan base toward the emerging megalomaniac, micro-managing, all-powerful Peter G. Angelos, the one thing that remained constant was his ability to buy the best baseball players in the world and get them to the field at Camden Yards.

All the team did was win games in 1997. The team started 4-0 and had a winning record in every month of the season. They went wire-to-wire in first place, finishing 98-64, and a runaway winner of the American League East.

Other than Mike Mussina having a no-hitter broken up in the ninth inning on a warm night in May and Roberto Alomar spending parts of the second injured, most every aspect of the team on the field was perfect. The Yankees finished 96-66 and were forced to visit the loaded Cleveland Indians and lost in the ALDS. The Orioles were dispatched to Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, where they quickly won a pair of games in the thunderous Kingdome, only to lose Game 3 at Camden Yards before Mike Mussina vanquished Randy Johnson in Game 4 to lead the Birds back to their second straight ALCS.

Once again, all of the sins of Peter Angelos seemed to be forgotten. The Orioles were four wins away from the World Series. It had been a magical season, bringing back memories of the Earl Weaver teams of the 1969 to 1971 era when great pitching and defense won championships.

The Orioles had defeated the Indians in 1996 and the Cleveland disdain for all things Baltimore had grown exponentially as the Ravens played into their second fall under Art Modell. But the O’s couldn’t get the job done against the Indians, who won four one-run ballgames in the series, including a 1-0 heartbreaker in Game 6. Mike Mussina threw eight innings of shutout baseball before watching Armando Benitez give up an 11th inning home run to light-hitting Tony Fernandez to extinguish the Birds’ dreams of its first World Series since 1983.

The series with Cleveland was a classic, but one that went the wrong way for Orioles fans.

Despite the success on the field, the turmoil behind the scenes was palpable if mostly

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 4) – The Dumb Dumb error begins in Baltimore

Posted on 04 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 4 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

Chapter 13 is available here.

 

4. The Dumb Dumb error begins in Baltimore

 

“I don’t think any boss, anybody in charge should ever criticize subordinates publicly. That is even in this business here that Frank Sliwka operates [at The Barn in Carney]. If he has a problem with one of the employees I think he should take them in the back room quietly and tell should tell him or her what he objects to. I don’t think anyone should publicly chastise an employee. When you’re a boss you keep that kind of thing to yourself. And that’s what I said to Davey Johnson. And I’ll repeat it again and I’ve told him that since then. He’s a great manager. He’s a great guy. I love him like a brother and we get along fine. Except I’ve said to him, “If you have to criticize someone, you take him in your office, shut the door and let it be between you and the player.”

 – Peter G. Angelos on WWLG Budweiser Sports Forum

March 1997

THERE COULD BE NO ENCORE for an act and a night as emotionally charged as the Cal Ripken 2131 night at Camden Yards in September 1995. Once again, there was no postseason baseball in Baltimore for the 12th consecutive year and Angelos, aided by the immortal Iron Man streak and the intense, family-like local passion for baseball, had enough revenue coming into the franchise to afford any baseball player he wanted in the marketplace. The club was swimming in money vs. its MLB foes. Plus, given his pro-player stance in the contentious labor dispute, many believed the Orioles would be a haven for free agents who wanted to sign with an owner who saw their side and wanted to win and put the best team on the field.

Looking ahead to the 1996 season, Peter G. Angelos was obsessed with one thing: bringing a World Series to Orioles fans.

Immediately following the 1995 campaign, Angelos fired manager Phil Regan and “accepted the resignation” of Roland Hemond, who was actually forced out, along with Frank Robinson, who was glad to leave the Orioles at that point and wound up working for commissioner Bud Selig in the MLB office.

Angelos was clearly running every aspect of the Baltimore Orioles at this point and was quite brazen in the media regarding his daily involvement. He bragged that he had enough time to run a law firm that was netting more than $15 million per year in personal income for him at the time and a MLB team on the side. Now with all of the “baseball people” gone except for his self-appointed farm director Syd Thrift, Angelos needed a new manager and a new general manager. He had already developed quite a reputation in the insulated, incestuous world of baseball men and lifers. He had owned the team for less than 24 months and had already pissed off every one of his 27 MLB partners, upstaged Cal Ripken on the biggest night of his life on national television and chased off two managers and a total of five baseball men: Roland Hemond, Frank Robinson, Doug Melvin, Johnny Oates and Phil Regan. Together they spanned three generations of baseball and touched virtually everyone in the industry with their true stories of an owner who called a manager into his office and demanded – among other things – which third basemen would be in the lineup on any given night.

A year earlier Davey Johnson, a former Orioles second baseman and World Series champion as manager of the 1986 New York Mets, was interviewed by Angelos and his internal committee that included Joe Foss and team lawyer Russell Smouse, but they instead selected Phil Regan, who they thought would be a hot commodity the previous year and whom never was given much of a chance under Angelos.

Johnson, who had a storied reputation for being snarky, cunning and anti-authority, took a shot at Angelos 12 months earlier when he didn’t get the job: “I heard they wanted an experienced manager and a proven winner. That’s why I interviewed for the job. But I guess that’s not what they wanted, right?” he told the media when he was clearly disappointed that he wasn’t selected in October 1994.

Now, after a disastrous year on the field in 1995 under Regan, Johnson’s name surfaced again and Angelos wasted no time in complementing the decorated yet difficult managerial prospect stating, “His baseball knowledge is impressive, and his strong background with the Orioles came through.” Johnson, meanwhile backtracked from any contentiousness in an effort to get the job: “I enjoyed meeting Peter,” he said. “You read stories about the Big Bad Wolf, but he was really nice.”

On October 30, 1995, Johnson was named manager of the Baltimore Orioles, the club’s third skipper in just 18 months under the Angelos regime. “This is a move in the direction of producing a winner,” Angelos said. “We are committed to building a winner in Baltimore, and Davey is a vital part of that effort. He has a winning attitude. He’s a very down-to-earth, forthright baseball professional with an extensive knowledge, and his record clearly establishes that.”

Was Johnson still sore about being passed over the previous year? “I do have a lot of pride, but I don’t have a big ego,” Johnson said. “Maybe I was hoping they’d offer the job so I could say no, but I discarded that idea in about two seconds because Baltimore represents my baseball roots. I thought it was a good fit a year ago, and I still do.”

Angelos allowed Syd Thrift to represent the Orioles at the MLB meetings in Arizona while he remained in Baltimore to interview a bevy of candidates to be the next general manager. Kevin Malone, a former Montreal Expos general manager, and Joe Klein, who had local roots and had been the GM of the Detroit Tigers, were considered to be the front runners but much like with every baseball decision made by Angelos, time wasn’t considered a pressing concern.

And despite most legitimate general managers wanting the opportunity to hire a field manager, Angelos did it backwards. The new manager, Davey Johnson was sent off to the MLB winter meetings along the farm director, Syd Thrift. Both were encouraged by Peter Angelos to recruit an appropriate general manager and working partner that would bring the Baltimore Orioles a World Series title.

In Phoenix, Johnson tracked down former Toronto general manager Pat Gillick, who was his old minor league teammate from

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Ten Orioles thoughts with April in the books

Posted on 01 May 2013 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles concluding the opening month of the 2013 season by tying a franchise record with 16 wins in April, here are 10 thoughts to ponder as May begins:

1. Jason Hammel leads the club with four wins, but we’ve yet to see the 2012 version of the de facto ace show up this season. That’s not to say the right-hander hasn’t been one of the Orioles’ better starting pitchers, but the two-seam fastball that led to his renaissance last season hasn’t shown nearly the same bite through six starts this year. Despite a 3.79 earned run average, Hammel is averaging just 5.9 innings per start and his 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings is down dramatically from the 8.6 rate he held last season. Always possessing strong breaking stuff, Hammel needs to find a better feel for his two-seamer in order to make the rest of his repertoire more explosive. There was little debate that 2012 was a career season for Hammel prior to the knee surgery in July, but the Orioles didn’t actively pursue an impact starting pitcher with the thought — wise or not — that they had a pitcher with top-of-the rotation stuff. They’ll need better from Hammel over the next five months of the season.

2. Chris Davis’ historic opening-week start gained the most attention, but the free-swinging first baseman also collected 16 walks in April. His nine home runs have garnered plenty of press as opponents are pitching the left-handed slugger very carefully since the beginning of the season, but the walk totals have led many — including me — to praise Davis for an improved level of patience at the plate after he walked only 37 times during the 2012 season. However, the 27-year-old is seeing just 3.79 pitches per plate appearance after averaging 4.00 pitches per trip to the plate a year ago. Part of this can be explained by Davis’ strikeout rate decreasing (one every 3.5 at-bats compared to one per 3.0 at-bats last year), but it also indicates his walk numbers may not be sustained as his bat inevitably cools off at different points in the season. Regardless of just how much more patient Davis has become at the plate or not, it’s difficult to dispute how much of a force he’s become since the beginning of last season, making his acquisition in the Koji Uehara deal in 2011 a brilliant one by former president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

3. The decisions to let go of Mark Reynolds and Joe Saunders weren’t the problem, but electing not to replace them is looking more and more like a mistake. Anyone who expects the former Orioles first baseman to continue hitting .300 like he did in his first month with Cleveland will likely be disappointed, but his eight home runs would look very good in the Baltimore lineup right now. Considering Orioles designated hitters batted .144 and posted a .502 on-base plus slugging percentage in April, Reynolds occupying that role or first base — with Davis handling the other — would be a major boost to the lineup. Meanwhile, Saunders pitched a complete game against the Orioles on Monday night but has been abysmal away from Safeco Field (12.51 ERA) so far. As I said during the offseason, letting go of Reynolds and Saunders was fine if the intention was to upgrade each of their spots and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette expressed the desire to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat and a veteran starting pitcher. However, neither of those goals were accomplished and that could continue to plague the Orioles throughout 2013.

4. Zach Britton turned in a poor 2013 debut, but his quick demotion sends the wrong message to the organization’s young pitchers. No one expected the 25-year-old left-hander to have a long leash given the higher expectations in Baltimore these days, but I can’t subscribe to the idea of sending down a pitcher who you hope will fit into your future after only one rough start. This creates the impression that young pitchers looking for their chance in Baltimore need to be perfect, which isn’t a mindset conducive to being successful. I also wonder what kind of message it sends to Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin, who gave their recommendation for Britton to be the next call-up after Josh Stinson’s failed start last week. A spot start for an organizational depth guy like Stinson or even a journeyman like Freddy Garcia is fine, but if the expectation all along was for Britton to only receive one chance, the club would have been better served leaving him in Norfolk and not messing with his head. Again, allowing six earned runs in six innings was far from acceptable, but it wasn’t the type of disastrous outing that warranted an immediate exit.

5. It’s safe to say Nolan Reimold has yet to adjust to his new role as the club’s primary designated hitter. Reimold has two home runs, five RBIs, and a 1.029 OPS in 29 plate appearances as the club’s left fielder, but the 29-year-old has posted an ugly .477 OPS with one homer and two RBIs in 52 plate appearances while serving in the DH spot. The problem for Reimold is the remarkable play of Nate McLouth, who has been more productive at the plate and is better defensively in the outfield. Manager Buck Showalter can’t justify taking McLouth out of left field, so Reimold needs to adjust to his new role, which can be difficult for individuals accustomed to being in the game as a defensive player. The good news for Reimold is that he’s remained healthy after undergoing spinal fusion surgery last year, but the Orioles must get better production from the designated hitter or will need to begin looking at other options for the role. It’s fair to acknowledge he’s still regaining strength and is adjusting to not having quite as much range of motion in his neck after the surgery, but Reimold would be the first to tell you he needs to be better at the plate.

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Alomar to be inducted into Orioles Hall of Fame

Posted on 01 May 2013 by WNST Staff

Former Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar has been elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame, the team announced today. Former Orioles scout and baseball operations executive Don Pries will be inducted as this year’s Herb Armstrong Award winner. Alomar and Pries will be honored at a luncheon at Oriole Park sponsored by the Oriole Advocates, founders of the Orioles Hall of Fame, on Friday, August 2. The induction ceremony will take place prior to the Orioles’ game against the Seattle Mariners that night.

Alomar spent three seasons with the Orioles from 1996-98, compiling a .312 batting average, 50 home runs and 210 RBI in 412 regular season games. His .312 career average with the Orioles is the highest among all players in franchise history with at least 1,200 at-bats for the team and he ranks 9th all-time in slugging percentage (.480).

In 1996, Alomar set a franchise record with 132 runs scored, 4th-most in the American League, and also led the team in batting average (.328), hits (193), doubles (43) and on-base percentage (.411) to help the Orioles to their first playoff appearance in 13 seasons as the American League Wild Card. He set team records for home runs (20, 22 total) and RBI (84, 94 total) as a second baseman in a single season. In the playoffs, his 9th inning, two-out single tied the American League Division Series Game 4 against Cleveland and his 12th inning home run won that game and the series for Baltimore.

Alomar won Gold Glove Awards in 1996 and 1998, a Silver Slugger Award in 1996 and was elected to the All-Star Game in each of his three seasons in Baltimore, including Most Valuable Player honors in the 1998 All-Star Game in Colorado.

A 12-time All-Star and 10 time Gold Glove winner who also played for the San Diego Padres (1988-90), Toronto Blue Jays (1991-95), Cleveland Indians (1999-2001), New York Mets (2002-03), Chicago White Sox (2003, 04) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2004), Alomar was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. He was the first player to be enshrined as a Toronto Blue Jay and is one of 12 Hall of Fame members who played for the Orioles and were inducted for their on-field accomplishments.

Pries worked for the Orioles for seven years from 1968 through 1974 as an area scout (1968-69), Director of Player Personnel (1970-72) and Assistant to the General Manager (1973-74). He oversaw the Orioles’ farm system and worked with General Manager harry Dalton during the most successful time in club history, when the team went to the playoffs five times, winning three American League pennants and a World Series in 1970.

Pries left the Orioles after the 1974 season to help Major League Baseball design a computer system for the MLB Scouting Bureau, benefiting all teams. In 1987, he became Director of the Major League Scouting Bureau and a year later created the Scout Development Program, a curriculum designed to teach all facets of scouting. Since its inception, more than 1,000 people have completed the program and more than 75% of those are currently employed or have worked in Major League Baseball. Pries played 13 seasons in the minor leagues and managed for five years before beginning his off-field career as a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960. He also scouted for the Cleveland Indians and Oakland A’s prior to joining the Orioles.

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Wieters, Markakis grab first Gold Glove awards

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Luke Jones

For the first time since 1998, the Orioles have claimed multiple Gold Glove awards as catcher Matt Wieters and right fielder Nick Markakis each became first-time recipients when Rawlings named their 2011 recipients late Tuesday night.

The 25-year-old Wieters is the first Orioles catcher to claim the award after throwing out 37 percent of runners attempting to steal and being named to his first All-Star team this season. The catcher committed five errors and had one passed ball in 132 games this year. His .995 fielding percentage tied for the American League lead among catchers.

Markakis earned his first Gold Glove after committing the first error-free season by an Orioles outfielder playing at least 150 games. His 14 outfield assists was fifth in the American League. Since 2006, Markakis ranks second in the majors with 72 outfield assists, with only Jeff Francoeur (84) having more.

The 27-year-old outfielder is the third Orioles outfielder to receive the honor, joining Paul Blair (1967, 1969-1975) and Adam Jones (2009).

Wieters and Markakis became the 14th and 15th players in franchise history to win a Gold Glove. This season marks the 17th time the Orioles have received multiple winners but the first since 1998 when Roberto Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mike Mussina were named Gold Glove winners.

Since the award was created in 1957, the Orioles have earned 61 Gold Gloves, second-most in the American League behind the New York Yankees (63).

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To everyone who contributed to ’96-’97 Orioles celebration: Thanks and No Thanks

Posted on 23 July 2011 by Peter Dilutis

Glenn Clark and Thyrl Nelson had an awesome idea Friday in the midst of another losing season for the O’s and a strange “no football” period for the Ravens and NFL.

They spent a whole day honoring the 1996 and 1997 Orioles teams that exhilarated Baltimore with their playoff runs and exciting, hard-nosed baseball.

During the celebration yesterday, Nestor tweeted the following @WNST.

Nestor: This 96-97  conversation  is great & awful. Awesome memories, makes me realize how f**ked up current state of team is

Say what you want about Nestor’s opinion on the Orioles, Angelos, baseball, whatever…But I agree with that statement 100%. I was more depressed about the state of Orioles baseball last night than I have been in quite some time.

I heard a guy in B.J. Surhoff call in who just cared so much about winning that he really didn’t care about anything else. A guy who would be ticked off when he looked at his stat-line and saw that he was hitting .280. Someone who desperately wanted to be in Baltimore, and who cried when he was traded in a mismanaged fire-sale. Say what you want about his second stint with the Orioles, but the 2011 version of the Birds could sure use a few Surhoff’s.

We also heard from Sammy Perlozzo on Friday. Sam dedicated his life to coaching baseball, and was a mainstay either in the O’s third base coaching box or on the bench as the bench coach. He gets a well-deserved promotion to manager in 2005, and he is gone in less than two years. Maybe he wasn’t cut out to be a manager, but no one could have succeeded in the mess that was the 2006 and 2007 Orioles. No one. Sam, a Maryland native, has moved on to more winning ways as a coach on the Phillies’ staff.

Look at one of the main individuals that we celebrated yesterday in Pat Gillick. The guy is a Hall of Fame General Manager. Hall of Fame. Yeah, that Hall of Fame.

Peter Angelos thought he knew more about baseball than him. He really did. He didn’t allow Gillick to trade Bobby Bonilla and David Wells, believing the O’s had a playoff push in them. They did, and from then on, Angelos felt he had the pedigree to “assist’ his front office decision makers regarding baseball decisions. That line of thinking has led to the pitiful demise of the last 14 seasons.

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Top 20 moments in Camden Yards history: No. 11

Posted on 25 March 2011 by Luke Jones

As we move closer to the start of the 20th season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I take a look back at the top 20 moments in the history of the ballpark. Selected moments had to relate directly to the action on the field at the time. No orchestrated events such as World Series anniversary celebrations or Orioles Hall of Fame inductions were eligible.

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Previous selections:
20. Wieters’ debut
19. Nomo tosses only no-hitter in Oriole Park history
18. Orioles rally from nine-run deficit against Boston
17. 30-3
16. Showalter takes the helm
15. Palmeiro homers in Oriole debut
14. Griffey’s Warehouse shot
13. Sparring with Seattle
12. Davis defies the odds

11. Hoiles’ dreamlike slam stuns Mariners – May 17, 1996

A unique moment in sports is occasionally so memorable that it takes on a life of itself.

An event where only several thousand were present gradually transforms into an occasion witnessed by hundreds of thousands, if only for its improbable nature and the euphoria its aftermath creates.

There’s nothing more cliched in sports than the boyhood dream of stepping to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with your team trailing by three runs.

Full count, two outs, and the bases loaded.

It’s the stuff of wide-eyed boys playing in the backyard on a July afternoon, dreaming of one day playing in the big leagues.

And it was the exact scenario presented to Chris Hoiles, who capitalized on that dream in one of the wildest games in Orioles history.

Hoiles

It was a typical slugfest that characterized the 1996 season. Both the Orioles and Seattle Mariners were short on pitching but could mash opponents into submission with an offensive onslaught — the two clubs hit a combined 502 home runs in 1996 — that wore out scoreboard operators around the league.

After jumping out to a 7-2 lead through five innings, the Orioles bullpen proceeded to surrender an inexcusable 11 runs in four innings of work. A grand slam by 20-year-old Alex Rodriguez off Alan Mills had given the Mariners an 11-9 lead in the eighth, and the lead grew to 13-10 as Seattle closer Norm Charlton worked in the bottom of the ninth.

Many of the 47,259 in attendance had gone home after the game had eclipsed the four-hour mark and appeared destined to be a deflating loss thanks to the ineffective bullpen. Even more at home had surely turned off the television set as the clock approached midnight.

Yet, what happened next would have many more thousands claiming they were there, or had at least hung on to watch the bottom of the ninth on TV.

The erratic Charlton — who would bring his high-wire act to Baltimore two years later to the tune of a 6.94 earned run average in 1998 — walked Roberto Alomar, allowed a Bobby Bonilla double, and issued a free pass to Cal Ripken in the process of getting the first two outs of the inning. Hoiles came to the plate with a chance to become the 20th man in major league history to hit a walk-off grand slam to erase a three-run deficit.

The count went full as the several thousand still in attendance rose to their feet with the imagined scenario playing out before their eyes. Then, Hoiles deposited the 3-2 pitch into the left field seats to give the Orioles an inconceivable 14-13 victory as the stunned Mariners walked off the field.

His teammates mobbed him at the plate as Hoiles became the only known player in history to hit his “ultimate” grand slam with a full count and two outs. The select fans who had stuck around Camden Yards that night had seen one of the most exciting moments in franchise history.

And thousands more would learn of it the next morning, kicking themselves for heading home early or turning off the tube the previous night.

Myself included.

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Introducing The "All American League Team" Over The Last 25 Years .....

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Introducing The “All American League Team” Over The Last 25 Years …..

Posted on 21 July 2010 by WNST Interns

Well, Allen McCallum and I spent the better part of Tuesday’s show discussing the American League’s best players over the last quarter century. Of course, we agreed on some and disagreed on just as many.

Below, find my list of offensive players. Tomorrow, I’ll post the pitching staff. Just remember, IT ONLY COVERS THE SPAN OF 1985-2010 …..

Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez
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You could probably make an argument for a few different backstops, but “PUDGE” has simply been the best catcher in the American League during this time span. The AL-only numbers are undeniable – 2477 hits, 281 homeruns and a .301 batting average.

Figure in 13 Gold Gloves and 14 All Star appearances, in the American League, and it’s easy to see he is absolutely unrivaled. Yeah, he obviously used PED’s, but he was damn good when he was skinnier than a rail.
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First Base – Rafael Palmeiro
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Don’t say STEROIDS. I don’t wanna hear it. Plenty of players used, Palmeiro simply got caught. His career achievements are almost exclusive to the criteria – American League (1985-2010) …..

I don’t even see a close second, with one exception. Don’t despair “Big Hurt” fans, he made the list. Just wait a little while …..
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Second Base – Roberto Alomar
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Hello, McFly ??? This might be the single greatest Hall Of Fame injustice of the last 25 years. Roberto Alomar is not only the greatest second baseman of the last quarter century, he’s arguably among the five best players of the cited generation.

Yep, he was THAT GOOD …..
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Third Base – Wade Boggs
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Did you play baseball during Bogg’s heyday? If so, don’t tell me you didn’t try eating CHICKEN before a half dozen straight games …. before figuring out DIET really had nothing to do with it. Boggs was probably among the three very best hitters of the last 25 years – regardless of league.

Here we are a couple decades removed from the Margo Adams debacle. Remember her? I wonder what she looks like TODAY? She was the one HIT & RUN the hitting champ would prefer to forget. If she happened today, it would be a non-issue.

Wade Boggs was a hitting machine …. on and off the field. And, he’s the American League’s best third baseman, since 1985.
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Shortstop – Alex Rodriguez
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Shoot me !!!! Dump my body in the nearest landfill …..

Whatever your heart says, the sobering truth is A’Rod is the American League’s best shortstop of the last 25 years. He hasn’t played the position in nearly 7 years and he still has more hits, homeruns, rbi and steals than any other A.L. shortstop of the last quarter century.
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Outfield (not by specific position) – Ichiro Suzuki
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He has achieved monumental accomplishments in the span of ONE decade. In fact, Ichiro hasn’t finished playing his 10th full season, yet. But, he’s collected 2151 hits, 363 steals and a .332 batting average. At this rate, he’ll collect his 3000th hit approximately halfway thru his 14th season.

Can you imagine if he would’ve arrived on the scene before his 27th birthday, or if he played in a better lineup? Throw in 10 All Star appearances and 9 Gold Gloves (in 9 full seasons) and Ichiro is arguably the GREATEST PLAYER of the last 25 years.
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Outfield – Manny Ramirez
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Love him, hate him …. he’s among the very best of the American League’s STARS over the last quarter century …..

A.L. stats alone – 2318 hits, 510 homeruns and a .313 batting average. Throw in a couple World Championships, and it’s pretty hard to deny Manny Ramirez’s pedigree. And, there is a concrete argument suggesting that he doesn’t always play his hardest. After all, Manny is usually being Manny, right?
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Outfield – Ken Griffey Jr.
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I originally omitted him from the list. But, Junior has enjoyed a better A.L.-only resume’ than Rickey Henderson over the duration of the last 25 years. If the consideration was the last 30 years, it might be different. However, it’s not …..

Of course, Junior hit the scene with an energy and power display that made many of us think he would re-write history. That didn’t happen, but he’s still among the 3 best A.L. outfielders of the last 25 years. In 14 American League seasons, he racked up 1877 hits, 420 bombs and a .291 batting average. Toss in 10 Gold Gloves and just as many All Star appearances, and he’s a notable choice over the likes of Rickey Henderson.

Yeah, I know the RICKEY arguments are coming. Don’t waste your time. As I said, we’re talking about the last 25 years, which means you’ve gotta wipe away the first half dozen seasons of Rickey’s career. Thus, since 1985, he was a slightly above average hitting A.L. outfielder – with 1754 hits, 475 steals and a .278 batting average. Include 6 All Star appearances and ZERO Gold Gloves and Rickey simply doesn’t shape up to Griffey’s achievements.
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Designated Hitter – Frank Thomas
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I told you the BIG HURT would make the list. After all, he’s arguably the most prolific power hitter of the last 25 years. He could hit the ball 500 feet. Yet, he was disciplined. You don’t wanna throw Frank a strike? No problem, he’d gladly drop his stick and trot down to first base. Count ’em – 1667 walks, while only whiffing 1397 times. That’s remarkable for a hitter who averaged 35+ homers, per season.

Much to my good friend Allen McCallum’s chagrin, the WALK defines a huge part of the Big Hurt’s pedigree. Allen penalizes Thomas for not being more of a ‘swinger, while feeling he should’ve been more aggressive, especially as a #3 hitter. I wholeheartedly disagree. Regardless of batting position, what’s the one thing we know? In fact, what’s a bigger KILLER than heroin and crack, combined? FREAKIN’ WALKS. Ask any pitcher !!!!

Frank Thomas amassed 2468 hits, 521 homers and a .301 batting average in 19 seasons. He’s a first ballot Hall Of Famer. And, if has a hair on his rear-end, he’ll call this guy and ask him to make the introduction, at Cooperstown …..
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And, while we’re at it, lets refute the Edgar Martinez talk, right now. Along with Bret Boone and Jay Buhner, Edgar suddenly found the “Fountain Of Youth” (or Primobolan and Winstrol) as he neared his 30th birthday. Yeah, I know plenty of the guys in this blog USED. But, at least they were good at some point before they found “help.” Who has their best seasons between ages 32-37 ??? Hmmm …. how about Hulk Hogan, Barry Bonds and Edgar Martinez. Gimme a break …..

Lets look at Martinez before 30 …..
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Now, lets look at Martinez after his 32nd birthday …..
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Like I said, plenty of players used performance enhancing drugs. There is no getting around it. I just think some guys really developed an edge they’d never realized, prior to the usage. And, a core sect of those type of players were on a team in the Pacific Northwest.

It surely wasn’t the coffee …..

Tomorrow, I’ll do the American League pitching staff.

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Orioles Hall Of Fame Excludes Palmeiro & Alomar - I Don't Get It ....

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Orioles Hall Of Fame Excludes Palmeiro & Alomar – I Don’t Get It ….

Posted on 24 March 2010 by WNST Interns

On Monday, the Orioles announced 2010’s Hall Of Fame inductees. The list includes former pitching coach, Ray Miller, as well as former manager, Johnny Oates. A hearty congratulations to Ray and Johnny’s family …..

When these latest inductees were announced, I was a little surprised. It’s certainly my oversight, but I think of players prior to anyone else ….. and I think some pretty deserving on-field contributors await the team’s distinction. In fact, as Allen McCallum can attest, I’ve been openly campaigning for Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar for more than a month.

Better yet, lets be accurate, I’ve really been feeding the “Palmeiro – Orioles Hall Of Fame” rumblings, since around January 25th – just a couple days removed from the confirmed reacquisition of Miguel Tejada. And, to dispel any suspicions, I wasn’t being a smartass about it.

I honestly believe Rafael Palmeiro belongs in the BALTIMORE ORIOLES HALL OF FAME …..
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Yet, for the past couple years, I’ve bought the common impression and assumption that the Orioles organization is trying to distance itself from any tie to the albatross known as PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS. I don’t blame them …. and if such a standard existed, I would understand and respect it.

That said, it’s hard for me to believe the Orioles really have such an unspoken standard – if they’re paying Miguel Tejada $6 million to bring his “bag of tricks” back to this clubhouse and in a uniform.

I wholeheartedly believe Miguel Tejada will be a benefit to this 2010 Baltimore Orioles lineup. Call him a “stopgap” (I’ve only heard this term 748,529 times in a few months) or whatever else, he makes the lineup better, in the short term.

And, I don’t wanna beatup on Tejada’s character, while rooting for him to drive in runs – in less than two weeks. It seems kinda hypocritical to me.

Yet, when the Orioles announce another Hall Of Fame class, brimming with freakin’ COACHES, and still without one of the organization’s greatest players EVER, I’m compelled to be honest about the situation. It’s deserving of conversation and dissection.

Just as we hold the Baseball Writers accountable for their decisions on who merits a day in Cooperstown, I believe it’s imperative to learn WHO contributes to the consensus on the Orioles annual induction of immortals. Who decided on this year’s class?

I don’t wanna hear the convenient “Orioles Advocates” response, either. Who are they?
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According to the Orioles Advocates website, the team’s Hall Of Fame process is conducted by board members and “prominent media members.” I’ll asume that I don’t work with any “prominent” media members, at WNST. But, I’ll check …..

I honestly feel we have a rightful expectation to know who to lobby for this cause. If it wasn’t important, the Orioles Hall Of Fame wouldn’t exist and the organization wouldn’t dump money and effort into it.

Do Orioles Advocates board members and “prominent media members” make selections and run ’em up the flag pole, to see if the Orioles organization is comfortable with the choices? I would think so. And, I don’t blame the Orioles, one bit, if they have such an enforcement arm.

If I stood in the shoes of Mr. Angelos, I would want final say on selections for the team’s Hall Of Fame. After all, the selections represent the franchise and the franchise has a public face and image. I get that – I really do. If the two entities (the Orioles & Orioles Advocates) are associated in this endeavor, the team needs final say.

But, tell us.

The Orioles Hall Of Fame will be a significant part of this city’s history – just as much as the resume’ of players who play for the team and wear BALTIMORE across their chests, whenever they visit another city. For me, its very much about civic pride.

Some folks might read this far, while assuming I’m on a mission to stir up controversy. I’m really not …..

If the organization was in a spot where the only alumni worthy of enshrinement was coaches, I would understand – while also admitting a tad bit of embarrassment, in front of the baseball world. How does this look to people in New York, Minnesota or Boston?

Ahh, in truth, they don’t even know. After all, I don’t know who the Twins are inducting, this year. But, I’ll go out on a limb and predict it’s a PLAYER. I’ll just check …..

Well, it was a pretty simple search …..
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That’s right, on September 9th, the Minnesota Twins will be inducting Joe Mauer into the team’s Hall Of Fame. He’s definitely deserving. In fact, rumors persist that the state will be renamed MAUERsota, on the same day.

Whow, whoa ….. I’m just kidding. No need to cite or reference this anywhere else ….. if you know what I mean.

In truth, the Minnesota Twins will be inducting Greg Gagne into the team’s Hall Of Fame, on September 9th. You remember him, right? He was a rather light hitting shortstop, who averaged 105 hits, 9 homers and 10 steals, in 8 seasons with the Twins. For the record, Gagne also got caught stealing nearly as many times …..
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My first impression of Greg Gagne is he’s not really one of the GREATER Twins. But, it’s Minnesota’s deal.

I’m sure the Orioles have former players with Gagne’s achievements, who are on the outside looking into the team’s Hall Of Fame. Heck, they have even more stalward candidates.

The likes of Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro are evidently not worthy enough – or mitigating reasons keep them out. Of course, it’s the latter. We’re not stupid, we get it.

However, I’ve maintained and I still maintain that some sort of STANDARD or degree of morality should be exercised on the current Orioles team, if such a character measurement exists for personnel who will be Orioles “life longers” forever.

What’s the difference?

If somebody in the Warehouse is comfortable in saying “we don’t want steroids in the team’s Hall Of Fame, but we’re okay with having steroids on the present-day team,” I’ve got a problem with that. Hanging an alleged steroid user’s plaque on the wall, in the Club Section, won’t hurt anyone. Yet, acquiring a player who used and distributed steroids is very compromising to the team’s fragile and impressionable young cast.

Have you considered the immediate future of this guy?
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Rafael Palmeiro has no influence on Matt Wieters and his array of young teammates. Miguel Tejada does have influence over them. To be fair, it could be a positive, as well as a negative influence. But, the opportunity exists.

I’d be much more worried about the current Orioles culture, as opposed to recognizing former standouts for a day of pomp and circumstance, in late summer.

I’m not sitting in front of this computer and magically absolving Rafael Palmeiro of any misconduct or sins of the game. That era is etched in history and it will never go away. But, when do you move beyond it?

Rafael Palmeiro collected the five most productive seasons of any Orioles player, ever. That was during his first stint with the team and I’m inclined to think he was a different “player” at that time, if you know what I mean ….

Do you really need to hear him baring his soul? What will it do – beyond potentially revealing a dark period of his life, while humiliating his wife and kids? Miguel Tejada did the same thing – but we’ll be cheering for him in two weeks.

You wanna split hairs? Okay – a urine test caught Palmeiro and Congress caught Tejada.

In fact, if Palmeiro comes out and SAYS ANYTHING, he’ll be caught by Congress, too …..
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If there is one guy who merits a best interest in keeping his mouth shut on the issue, it’s Rafael Palmeiro. Anybody in his shoes would do the very same thing.

Yet, he’s a convenient target for fans and media who are bent on driving the Steroids Era down our collective throats, again, and again, and again. I suspect Rafael Palmeiro might end up carrying most of the baggage for guys who did the same thing as him.

What’s the difference between Palmeiro and Brian Roberts? I’m serious …..

We don’t believe Rafael Palmeiro took a tainted supplement, right? But, we also don’t believe Brian Roberts tried steroids just one time, either. Well, at least most of us don’t believe that story. But, we’re looking forward to Brian Roberts leading off for this Orioles lineup.

And, Brian will be in the Orioles Hall Of Fame someday. Heck, he might be there before Rafael Palmeiro gets the nod.

If we knew who to question, in a respectful manner, it might shed some light on the legitimacy of the Orioles Hall Of Fame election process. Perhaps, we would have a clearer understanding on criteria and protocol. And, we might learn about Rafael Palmeiro’s true chances of joining the “club.”

I think we deserve a transparent process.

If Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar are not deserving of plaques at Camden Yards, so be it …..
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But, those who render such a decision should be compelled to defend it.

The absence of really knowing the system and procedure yielding the Orioles Hall Of Fame process makes it kinda like the decicions Vince McMahon makes whenever his World Wrestling Entertainment company holds another event.

We know wrestling is fake, but we’ve trusted that everything about baseball is real.

This would include annual selections of the Orioles Hall Of Famers. Like I said, we deserve that much …..

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