the playoffs, what was left of that empire was in decay or close to departure.
Jon Heyman of The Los Angeles Times wrote in a 2000 spring preview:
The Orioles are old and slow, and they are an annual disappointment. One Orioles official said on the eve of the season, “We stink.” He said their only real strength was at DH. “We have four of those.”
The Orioles’ baseball decisions are now made by G.M. Syd Thrift and Angelos’ two sons, John and Louis. Mockingly, they are referred to as “Syd and the kids.” Thrift was so ill-prepared at the winter meetings that opposing general managers were shaking their heads. The kids are known better for their rotisserie playing, which might explain the real team.
Heyman itemized the 2000 team thusly:
Young pitcher with promise Matt Riley was arrested for disorderly conduct after a run-in with a policeman during spring training. Right-hander Mike Timlin hasn’t proved to be a closer. Mike Trombley, signed for $7.75 million over three years, hasn’t been terrible, except for the nine homers in his 24 innings. Hargrove admits age is working against his team. “We’re not getting any younger, like a lot of teams aren’t getting any younger,” he says. “We want at some point to start getting younger players. But the older players we have like Ripken and (Will) Clark and (Mike) Bordick and (B.J.) Surhoff and Anderson are still good players. They’re not done by any stretch of the imagination.” That might be wishful thinking; Clark didn’t hit his first homer until the team’s 60th game.
Even if the Orioles wanted to remake themselves now, it would be nearly impossible. Many of their players are so overpaid no one would take them. Their best players are flawed (Delino DeShields can hit but not field); free agents after the season (Bordick and catcher Charles Johnson); struggling (right-hander Scott Erickson, Clark); over 40 (DH Harold Baines, 41); have full no-trade clauses or 10-and-5 veto rights or both (Ripken, Belle, Anderson, righthander Mike Mussina); or limited no-trade clauses (Surhoff).
Camden Yards continues to sell out, but what the fans have seen three years running is a lot of bad baseball.
There’s plenty more to come.
The words of Heyman, in retrospect, could be considered quite prophetic. The Orioles wouldn’t reach the American League playoffs for 12 more years.