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Staci’s Soap Box

Miguel Tejada - Baltimore Orioles - Baltimore SportsSpring is my favorite time of the year. The weather gets warmer, the flowers bloom, people come out of hibernation and of course, my dreams for the Orioles have yet to be crushed.

I, like Neal, am optimistic that the Orioles can reach .500 (although I still maintain that Perlozzo’s presence represents a large, though not insurmountable impediment). The reports coming out of spring training support my optimism.

Obviously the pitching has been upgraded, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. I mean, it’s almost impossible not to consider the subtraction of Rodrigo Lopez an upgrade. But aside from that, the three young starting pitchers hold a lot of promise and the four new relievers are refreshing after the likes of Steve Kline, LaTroy Hawkins and company.

And most pleasing is the change of attitude. When the Orioles crashed in 2005, the clubhouse was a mess, poisoned by a diva named Sammy Sosa and a cheater named Rafael Palmeiro. Although the chemistry was better in 2006 with Kevin Millar and Jeff Conine, a losing atmosphere continued to pervade Camden Yards.

This doesn’t seem to be the case this year, and this is seemingly partly due to the changed attitudes of three of Baltimore’s “core” players. Jay Gibbons, though not typically a whiner, wasn’t happy about holding down the designated hitter slot. But now it seems he is content with a utility role.

Todd Williams, though his presence in itself is somewhat enigmatic, has made a real hange this offseason, hiring a personal trainer to try to whip his flabby body into something stronger and more athletic (last item).

And finally, and most notably, Miguel Tejada showed up to camp, vowing to be a “new Miguel.” He says he has eschewed tardiness and will be the leader we all know he can be.

Charming.

I am of course happy about all this. I love watching Miggy chat away, I’ll be pleased if Williams throws a few strikes, and I definitely would be content to not listen to Gibbons bitch about not being in the field when in fact, he is a defensive disaster. But what is going on here?

Jay Gibbons - Baltimore Orioles - Baltimore SportsIsn’t this what they were supposed to be doing all along? Doesn’t Miggy get paid to contribute to the team both with stats and emotion? Doesn’t Williams get paid to throw strikes? And doesn’t Gibbons, as well as every other player, get paid to do exactly whatever the hell Perlozzo and the Orioles want him to do?

Why weren’t they doing this all along? The fact that professional athletes get paid more than almost everyone in this country, including doctors, police, firefighters, etc., is not a fact lost on most people. But somehow, athletes often lose sight of this. Williams should have been in shape every one of his years with the Orioles or any other team for that matter. As a professional athlete it is his duty to stay in shape. He doesn’t have to do anything else! It’s about time they are thankful for employment and have decided to do what they are supposed to do. As far as I’m concerned, the only guy who gets to fail regularly at his job but still keep it is the weather man.

So it’s great that these three have decided to shut up and do what they are supposed to do. I’m just wondering what the hell were they doing for the past few years. This is not to say that the losses are their faults, but maybe if they had shown up, there might have been a small difference. A difference that could have ultimately affected the other players, the atmosphere, and perhaps lessened the accumulation of bitterness hanging over Camden Yards today.

2 comments to Staci’s Soap Box

  • JPA

    We are definitely on the same page here. I also like Perlozzo as a person, but he hasn’t inspired much confidence in situations when there was no pressure. He may prove to be a liability as the team improves and begins to compete on a daily basis. It is amazing what crap this team has put up with over the last few years. Losing teams have a tough time taking the hard line becasue managers are already at risk of “losing the clubhouse”. Unfortunately, players and their enormous salaries give them much more leverage to ignore coaches and whine to the media than ever before. Luckily, MLB is not quite the NBA where this imbalance is completely out of hand. Anyway, great post and I hope that this positive attitude continues throughout the summer and doesn’t fade with the record.

  • Dan The Man

    Great post. The more I am immersed in the endless optimism of Spring Training, the more I am glad we are without Rodrigo and LaTroy. One is a whiner (even though I will always admit my soft spot for watching him pitch when he’s on) and the other is borderline washed up. What’s more, is that both of them admitted to butting heads with Leo Mazzone. The pitching staff the Orioles have as of right now seems to be on the same page as Leo, and that might prove to be a very good thing indeed. Anything can happen, obviously, but it’s good to have your pitchers on the same side as their coach.

    Hooray for Todd Williams. Think Sam or Leo had a few choice words with this perennial disappointment after the season? I’m willing to bet they did. And I only say he’s a disappointment because, by all accounts, this guy should be a really solid reliever. His sinker ball is key to getting that double play, and it’s good to see him take some initiative. Now he needs to learn how to throw an intentional walk pitch (he is never going to live that incident down in my book). It seems that he and Gibbons and Miggy have sensed the optimism and the possibility of winning, what with the new bullpen and the signings of Huff and Payton. Which on one level is pretty poor. I don’t know what else is more motivating than MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, but hey, this is pro sports. Gibbons has the potential to be a serious homerun threat, but right now, he’s in no position to whine with the lack of games he’s played, and fortunately he’s smart enough to realize that, and in doing so, he’s enforcing the good feelings surrounding this Spring Training.

    As for Miggy, well, it’s just Miggy being Miggy, mang.