Thursday, June 21, 2007
Sammy Sosa hit his 600th career homerun last night, joining Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and some other guy in the 600 homerun club. Please join me in letting out a collective "So what?"
Let's face it, 600 homeruns ain't what it used to be. I'm not saying that because Aaron's historic 755 is soon to be unjustly relegated to second best ever. I'm saying that because in the age of the steroid, any player who hits 600 homeruns can't be trusted.
The last two people to hit 600 homeruns are Sosa and that other guy. Sosa went on trial before Congress to defend himself against steroid accusations, and the other guy refused to. Sosa has been in the league 18 years, the other guy 21. Sosa, over his career, has averaged 33 homeruns a season, the other guy averages 35. Remarkably, both have done the bulk of their homerun hitting in their twilight years, and neither is deserving of the Hall of Fame.
I wish I could be excited for Sosa. He's a former Oriole, a generally likable guy, and was part of one of baseball's most fun seasons in 1998. Unfortunately, all of that is tainted. His season with the O's was disastrous, and we all know that Baltimore is a hotbed for steroid activity. His likability is limited when you have the thoughts of him taking illegal substances in the back of your mind. And we all know by now that the 1998 season (regarded as a season to save baseball) was a sham. McGwire was juicing, Sosa was juicing, and the whole homerun chase was about as legit as batting practice. Six-hundred homeruns isn't that big a deal when you're physically built to hit the ball 600 feet.
"But Sammy's never been caught using steroids. Why are we putting him on trial more than Bonds?" Well, anonymous question asker, I'm taking Sosa to trial for a plethora of reasons. First, he's in the headlines today. Second, he came back to the majors this year with the sole purpose of hitting his 600th homerun. That, to me, is playing for the wrong reason. It's a totally self centered motivation. He couldn't care how well the Rangers do (which is good, since the Rangers are one of the few teams worse than the O's), and now that his milestone is reached, we get to see him go into shutdown mode before ultimately retiring.
The biggest reason I'm taking Sosa to task today is because he is a known offender. Sure, he has never been caught with the 'roids, but he has been caught cheating. It wasn't too long ago that the headlines were ablaze with news that Sosa was caught with a corked bat. Sosa backpedaled so fast you would have thought he was playing cornerback in the NFL. First, he blamed the batboy. Then, he said it was a batting practice bat. I think in the end he just blamed George W. Bush, and we actually liked that one, so we stuck with it. That, however, does not excuse his use of an illegal bat. Since Sosa has been known to cheat before, how can we be sure that he has not been cheating the whole time.
Baseball is a very high pressure game. Players are called up and asked to perform to a certain standard, and more often than not, only get one shot at the bigs. As a result, players do whatever they can to make sure that the shot lasts as long as possible. For Sosa, it's been a long and rewarding ride. Unfortunately, he is going to end up in a separate annal of baseball lore, alongside "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Mark McGwire, and ultimately, that other guy. He'll be remembered as one of those players that had the ability to make the Hall of Fame, but made the wrong decisions along the way. It's because of guys like McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds that we all say "So what?" when someone hits their 600th homerun.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Now what? That's the question that the Orioles are faced with a day after axing Sammy Perlozzo. So we made a drastic change that has garnered unprecedented media coverage of the Orioles, and now we have to continue on. But what's the right course of action? What do we do now? Do we add, or subtract, or add by subtracting, or subtract by adding, in order to stop the division amongst the team and the fans? The situation is dire, and the organization is officially (and now very, very, very publicly) in shambles.
Last night on SportsCenter, the topic of Perlozzo's firing was sent to John Kruk for analysis. Said the Krukster, "The Baltimore Orioles are a mess!" To shine some light on that, Kruk is a former player who was notoriously overweight, smoked even as a professional athlete, and retired in the middle of a game. And he called us a mess. Oy. To paraphrase the rest of Kruk's comments, he said that if the Orioles called him and asked him to manage (which, he added, has never happened), there would be no amount of money that would entice him to do it. He said there needs to be full scale changes throughout the organization before any manager even has a chance to win with the team. And you know what? He's absolutely right.
In the spirit of John Kruk's expert analysis of the Orioles, I have compiled a list of people that need to go in order for the team to have a chance. Knowing that lead is a poisonous, lethal metal that serves no purpose other than as a weight, I present the 2007 Baltimore Orioles All-Lead Team:
- Dave Trembley: Obviously, Trembley isn't long for the managerial position, and he will soon be jettisoned. I know that I'm not even giving him a chance, but let's face it, Trembley is not going to be the answer, so let's just nip this one in the bud.
- Mike Flanagan/ Jim Duquette: The two-headed monster somehow only has half the baseball knowledge of an average fan. When deciding to spend $42 miiiiiiiiillion to overhaul the bullpen, these two clowns go out and sign Danys Baez. Baez was a castoff of the Devil Rays. Folks, when you're a pitcher, and the D-Rays don't want you, consider another career.
- Danys Baez: The aforementioned Baez is the cause of probably half of teams 40 losses. With a delivery that resembles a T-rex trying to throw and the field presence of Hellen Keller, Baez has been nothing but a cancer on the mound, and that's a pretty telling sign on this team.
- Jay Gibbons: After what seems like eternity with the team, I think it's about high time good ol' Clown Feet took his act to another circus. Unfortunately, the contract he signed two years ago has him being paid by the O's for another two years at least (I think), so we need to figure out if the cost he carries by being on the team outweighs the cost of not having him on the team.
- The Bullpen: There's only one person in the 'pen worth keeping, but it's easier to get rid of all of them than to keep Jamie Walker by himself.
- Daniel Cabrera: One of those high and mighty "Prospects". The problem is, you never know if you're gonna get Good Daniel or Bad Daniel, and that is very dangerous. Cabrera can throw in the high nineties, but can't see the strike zone, which is actually very dangerous, since his fastball could probably kill somebody. Plus, for all the potential he has, Dr. Jekyll could probably fetch some good talent in a trade.
- Terry Crowley: The hitters can't hit. He's the hitting coach. He's actually one of the only constants on the team since 1998, which is the year that all this crap started. Nuff said.
- Miguel Tejada: Once the savior, now he's just an old act who has fallen way out of favor with all the fans. Tejada can't field that well, barely runs out any groundball, and is not accepting the leadership role that he should be filling. Tejada can fetch some bones from a contender looking for a doubles hitter for the playoffs, so we can get some more young talent for him at the trade deadline, if it takes that long. It's sad to see Miggy go, because he played well for us for 4 years, but his time is up as an Oriole.
- Peter Angelos: What, did you think the All-Lead team would not have it's anchor? Angelos is the root of all the problems, so the obvious solution is to get rid of Angelos. The problem is that he is the only person in the franchise that we can't just "get rid off". His time with the team will be decided by himself. Unless, of course, we can get a little Divine Intervention. Angelos is 77 years old, which anybody will tell you is no spring chicken. So when you hit your knees tonight, send one up for the Big Man to help us out a little bit and rid us of the problem.
So there you have it, the All-Lead team. That's a lot of holes to fill. I actually have a solution for two of the holes, as well (at no extra charge). To fill Dave Trembley's spot, I said yesterday that Joe Girardi would be a nice fit. To fill the hopefully soon gone-but-not-missed Angelos, I propose two people: Cal Ripken (obviously), or Steve Bisciotti. Think about it: Steve owns the O's and the Ravens. Both become benchmarks for their respective leagues, and Baltimore is the hub of the sports world yet again. Then we can Believe in Steve all year round, instead of just in the fall.
Unfortunately, unless God can answer all of Baltimore's collective prayers, the O's will continue in their downward spiral. Hopefully they can drop Petey the Greek in Hell on the way down, since we're going through it already. I know it seems hopeless, Baltimore, but just remember: it's T minus 40 days until training camp!
Monday, June 18, 2007
So it's all done but the rejoicing in the streets. The oil painting is finally gone, and things suddenly have a brighter outlook for 2008. Nothing against Sammy as a person, because I used to like him when he was a base coach and a bench coach and whatever else he has been, but he just didn't have the juice to get the job done as a manager. Now that he has been given his walking papers, let me do two things: first, use every euphemism for getting fired that I can think of, and apply it to Sammy, just to make me feel good; second, analyze the immediate and long term effects of this move.
1) Sammy got the gate
2) Sammy got the boot
3) Sammy got whacked
4) Sammy was given the pink slip
5) Sammy got sacked
6) Sammy got canned
7) Sammy got the axe
8) Sammy, don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya
9) Sammy, you ain't got to go home, but you got to get the heck up out of here
10) Sammy, You're FIRED (Donald Trump style)
11) So long Sammy, see ya in Miami.
Coincidentally, Miami is the former place of employment for the man who I firmly back as the O's next coach. Joe Girardi, formerly of the Florida Marlins, would be a near-perfect fit for the Orioles. Girardi is the reigning National League Manger of the Year, but got the Davey Johnson treatment and was let go after the season. Girardi earned Manager of the Year by taking a club of mostly rookies with the Marlins, and almost making the playoffs. He could come to Baltimore, and take a club of underachievers and hopefully make the playoffs, no? Girardi has the credentials, and at this point, the O's are interested.
So that's one possible plan for the long term. But what about right now? We can't go without a manager halfway through the season (though some would argue that we've been manager-less all season anyway). The Orioles, in their infinite wisdom, promoted bullpen coach Dave Trembley to the interim manager spot whilst the team seeks out Girardi. The bullpen coach. The guy who coaches the players who routinely lose the game for us. Oy.
Trembley has had some coaching experience in the minors, but none in the majors. Basically, he is serving to keep the seat warm for a week (hopefully) while the team hammers something out with Girardi or even Davey Johnson. The worst case would be to leave Trembley there for the remainder of the season, and lose what little dignity we still have left. Remember, during the current 8 game losing streak, the bullpen is 0-5 with an ERA over 5. That's atrocious. And we took the guy in charge of that unit, and promoted him to interim coach. That, friends, would be like the Oakland Raiders promoting their offensive coordinator, or Dick Cheney to President. It wouldn't make any sense whatsoever, and yet the O's have done it.
Obviously, the front office, the fans, and probably most of the players have considered this season a total wash, which is pretty sad, since it's only June 17th. However, with some new blood definitely on the horizon, maybe a little spark can be put into the team. Right now, fourth place in the AL East would seem like a major steal, so hopefully Trembley is removed fast enough to bring in either Girardi or Johnson, and the team can at least have a fighting chance for the rest of the season. Worst case scenario: we've already lived it, and we fired the culprit today. Best case scenario: we pull an Amazin' Mets and rebound to go all the way to the World Series. Most likely, it will be somewhere between those two extremes, which is fine by me, because it's almost football season anyway.