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Orioles: Time For Change (But Then What?)

In one sense, I’ve reached a breaking point with the Orioles. The stretch of baseball that began with Saturday’s epic ninth-inning meltdown and culminated with last night’s rain-soaked surrender has been the worst I can recall. It’s possible that this years-long run of losing reached its low ebb last night.

I’m convinced now that all or most of the coaching staff needs to be replaced, starting with DT and Terry Crowley. Not necessarily because they’re bad at what they do (something we can never know as fans) but because the time has come for change. Change that sends a message and shakes things up. Change that ushers in fresh voices and perspectives. Change that fundamentally alters what has been a losing culture for too long.

I’m also on board with just about any personnel move Andy MacPhail deems necessary. I’ve reached a point where I’m willing to look past how much I like some of these players (or DT) and admit that whatever it takes, it takes. I suspect the braintrust feels the same way.

All that said, so what? We all want the team to get better. Then…what? What’s the proper response to this situation?

There’s always bitching and moaning. Standing on the sidelines with all the answers, declaring with righteous indignation that “they’d be better if only they’d listen to me.” I think living that way is silly and pointless but that’s me. Some people, it makes them feel good. I don’t understand it but your mileage may vary.

For my part, I’ll say again that the best response to the losing is to continue to support the team. Go to a few games and cheer loudly (or, as is my wont, get a Lucas Clap going). Proudly (defiantly?) rock the black-and-orange. Take what joy you can from this mess and discard the rest.

It’s not that hard. Despite the conditions last night I still enjoyed myself. All it takes to do that is wanting to do that. Some do, some don’t, but it’s simple either way.

Whichever way you go, the baseball they play will improve. It just will.

(photo via)

30 comments to Orioles: Time For Change (But Then What?)

  • df1570

    I went last night and had a great time. I had a few beers before the game, hooted some things I shouldn’t have at two girls wearing Royals jerseys, paid the silly $2.00 ticket surcharge and went on in. In the 6th inning, I moved down and sat directly behind home plate in the first row — got on TV and all — then got kicked out by the usher who said, “We never sell those two rows there. I knew you didn’t have a ticket.” But he let me stay there and I watched an inning six rows from the field.

    It was fun in the way going to see the Skipjacks play New Brunswick in front of 1,200 at the old Civic Center used to be fun. There were 1,800 at OPACY last night – tops – but it was a neat night for me.

    But it was also extremely unsettling to see what I saw. Streets empty before the game. No vendors. Sections and sections of empty seats upstairs. Pretzels untouched. Hot dogs spinning, none having been bought in 30 minutes or more. NO ONE in the bathroom when I went in the 5th inning. NO ONE.

    And the worst part about the whole night came at the end, when I left the stadium with nothing.

    It sure would have been nice for an usher at the gate to hand me a $3.00 ticket coupon and say something like, “The Orioles REALLY do appreciate you coming out tonight in this bad weather. Here’s a $3.00 ticket coupon for a July weeknight home game. Please come back when the weather is nice.”

    That would have been cool.

    Instead, I went home with my soaked clothing and nothing else from the Orioles to remind me to come back again.

    Neal, I know you’re personally forbidden from criticizing the powers-that-be in the front office, but those fucking people have to start thinking a little bit more about what has happened to the baseball community in Baltimore. They’ve lost it all, just about. Tell them – because they’ll talk to you – to start coming to the reality that it’s not a plant…it won’t grow with water and sunlight. Those dummies have to start WORKING, HARD, to get people excited again. And one way to get people excited is to reward them for coming out, not pissing on them for coming in by charging them $2.00 extra like they did to me last night.

    The team is the team is the team. They’re bad because Andy fibbed to everyone last off-season when he said, “we’re going to buy the bats”. They bought ‘em, alright, they just don’t work that well.

    I don’t even care that much about the team, per-se. If they win, great, if they lose, oh well. They are what they are…a collection of guys who are already fed up with losing (and, I think, their manager) and who win a game or two by accident every week. They’re NOT going to win because, as we all know now, they’re really not trying to win. They’re just trying to put a team out there and whatever happens, happens.

    I care much more about seeing 1800 in the place last night, albeit on a horseshit night for baseball.

    I was there.

    Neal, I know you were too.

    The Orioles should be rewarding the fans who DO come out now.

    The numbers are starting to diminish in record numbers…they should be doing their best to keep the die-hards happy.

  • Mike R

    Could not agree more that there needs to be a shake up starting with Trembley. Unfortunatly, Im thinking the plan, is a bust too. Good idea, but not all good ideas work out in the long run. These guys just aren’t as good as advertised. The farm system has no hitters, at any level. These guys are not good, not living up to expectations. The solution is simple. Spend money, buy a new team. Angelos won’t open up the wallet, so here’s to waiting for the day to come when he sells the team(or he can’t live forever), and hoping who ever takes over opens up that wallet before we even think about playing contending ball again. As long as we dont open up the wallet and buy us a new team, these players will never win. With the exception of Wieters, Markakis,and Roberts, the rest of the dead weight, like 2006 – 2009 dead weight, can be shuffled out of town in the next few years. I’m talking Jones, Reimold, Luke, Atkins, Izzy, even Wigginton(you don’t think he’ll keep this up all year, and for years to come do you?) We cant hope to be like the Rays, and have all of our draft picks turn out to be great.

    Until we buy some top notch free agents like Carl Crawford is availible next year, Prince Fielder and Jimmy Rollins are availible in 2 years. Until we spend the money, and make some big moves like that, we can keep watching a team put up goose eggs in front of 1,000 people a night. I’ll still go to games, support the team, but my excitement level will be very minimal until the day comes where we’re playing a meaningful game in August.

    New Plan: Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend. You have to spend money to make money. And if you spend money to build a winning team, then I’m sure you’ll make a ton of $$$ filling that stadium every night, instead of once. Opening Day.

  • ryan97ou

    @ df1570:

    drew, i listened part of your show this morning and got the same exact feeling you mentioned here…that you did enjoy yourself. it was refreshing, as i was fully anticipating a negative vibe…maybe i didn’t listen long enough (or early enough). either way, thanks.

    and i agree with your comments here, (although last fri and saturday there were about 30k fans there), it would be nice to reward the “die-hards”…not that i expect it, but it would be a nice bonus.

    that said, i pay $8 to do much less fun things throughout the year, and when it’s a nice day/night (or even a shitty one), i never have a bad time at the stadium. as i told someone sitting in front of me last year in a september game that didn’t matter and was dreadfully slow: “there will be some night in february where you WISH you could be right where you are right now”.

    always true. i will be there…call me an idiot, or an enabler or whatever. i guess i got the brokeback for the o’s…or maybe it’s just going to the park and taking in a game and yelling and drinking a couple beers, etc. either way, it’s always fun.

    sorry for the ramble, not sure what my point was…i guess that i’m with yah neal.

  • Andrew

    The only thing that’ll bring people in is winning. That’s just the plain truth. And the Orioles obviously need to do something to start winning…but I don’t think that that can just be as simple as firing some coaches or making a big trade overnight in May (which’ll never happen).

    And really, when you look at this roster, in the long-term interests there’s not a whole lot of guys you can release and have someone else to immediately step in a provide more value, and definitely not enough more value to really bring the team around from “bad” to “good”.

    Sigh. I don’t know what they can do.

  • neal s

    @ Andrew: I don’t think there’s anything they can do to start winning in the short term. There’s no magic bullet for 2010. They can, however, start making moves now with an eye on 2011. To that end I think a new set of coaches is just something that needs to happen.

  • neal s

    Also, going back to sort-of reference the conversation from the previous thread (Jack’s points in particular) I want to point out again that my approach to dealing with losing should not be confused with an endorsement of losing. Just in case anyone is tempted to take me the wrong way.

  • Andrew

    @ neal s:
    I agree in principle that as soon as you know that you don’t want to retain the coaching staff, they should be gone and you should get your next group of coaches in there ASAP to start gelling, and I definitely agree that all of these coaches are pretty much goners, though I suppose you can make a case to hold onto Kranitz and Shelby.

    Here’s the thing, though, when we’re talking about dropping everyone in May – who steps in in the meantime to manage? And is it right to conduct a serious managerial search while Trembley is still sitting in the dugout?

    There’s a disconnect there in my brain that I can’t reconcile, though I’m definitely open to ideas.

  • df1570

    The truth is, anyone still dumb enough (like me) to go down there and plunk down money isn’t really enabling them…because they’re bathing in money right now and no one is going to the games. They have everyone by the short hairs and they know that we know that they know it. But it’s an inside job. Why spend $150 million on a player like Prince Fielder (LAUGHABLE that someone mentioned that guy as a possibility here…NO CHANCE they’ll EVER spend that money on a marquee player) when they can spend $75 million on their payroll, lose 95 games, and still make $40 million a year?

    So either go to the games or don’t…it really doesn’t matter to them.

    My whole point is this: Reward the people who DO go. They’re the ones to be most thankful for…the few who still wander down on a Monday night to see the blood and guts spilled on the sidewalk after the 6-car crash.

    And they will NEVER, EVER, EVER spend the new benchmark ($100 million for 7 years) on the two players (eventually) they’ll need to put them over the top. NEVER. Pigs will fly first. Fielder will be a $140 million or more. Better get used to seeing him hit 44 HR’s for Boston.

    Honestly, though, the O’s are getting exactly what they deserve, which is grief from the people who care and non-interest from those who don’t. It’s what they get for doing what they’ve done to the franchise.

    They’ve earned this ass kicking the fans are giving them now.

    It’s up to them to turn it into a positive and reward the folks who are still coming out occasionally.

    I’m guessing their ego is FAR too great to do that. But it’s fun watching them squirm and sweat.

    And making Andy do that video last week. What a low blow to him. He hasn’t exacty set the world on fire here during his stewardship, but making him dress up and fiddle around with that pen while trying to explain the team’s slow start was disgraceful treatment.

  • dan the man

    df1570 wrote:

    LAUGHABLE that someone mentioned that guy as a possibility here…NO CHANCE they’ll EVER spend that money on a marquee player

    While I don’t disagree with most of what you’ve written in this thread today (shocking, I know), I just can’t let a comment like this slide.

    What there’s no chance of is that player ACCEPTING $150 million from the Orioles to play for a loser. Tex was, in fact, offered $140-some million to play here. That’s a fact. But it takes 2 to tango. You can’t just say that the O’s “won’t” pay somebody. It’s not only up to the Orioles, it’s up to the other player, too. So many people don’t seem to understand that and it’s really fucking simple.

    When the O’s can prove through their young home-grown talent and a few key acquisitions that they are for real, they’ll be able to get that big name free agent, hopefully. Until then, that big name guy just isn’t going to accept the money to go play for a loser.

  • df1570

    Dan,

    You’re not quite right.

    They offered Tex $127 million. That was the REAL number, not the number floated by his agent to get people around the league off their duffs.

    That’s not $140 million. Or $150 million. Or the $180 million it took to actually sign him.

    The Orioles are similar to the guy who goes to Atlantic City to gamble for a day or two with “the boys”. The guy starts out at the $5.00 table and wins a few hundred bucks. He then steps up to the $25.00 table because he sees lots of hot girls hanging around gambling guys. Once he sees the guys at the $25.00 table are REAL poker players gambling with REAL money, he loses the $400 he won at the $5.00 table and then retreats back there to play with the rest of the great unwashed.

    That’s the O’s. That’s why they signed those three guys this off-season. They spent a GRAND TOTAL of $22 million this off-season. On three players. That says it all.

    And in the case of this team, as woeful as they are right now, they’d have to buy TWO players of that caliber…TWO players of benchmark salaries — meaning they’d have to come up with $250 million or more in guaranteed monies, to get two rock star players.

    They’re NOT going to spend that kind of money. You know it. I know it. And they know it.

    Especially when they’re averaging 15,000 a night or whatever the numbers are going to dip to.

    And Dan, there really wasn’t much to disagree with me on…most of what I wrote are facts, not opinion. They’ve chased away 90% of the fans in town with silly stuff like charging more for the day of game ticket buyers and closing down the scalp free zone and then lying about it by saying “the city government made us do it”.

    So for once, we agree. But mainly by accident, I suppose.

  • df1570

    In the meantime, though, while they’re still trying to figure out what direction they’re going to go and who’s going to run the team over the next 3-5 years and who might manage, they still have to treat the people who are going out there with the utmost respect.

    And last night as I left the stadium, it struck me how they (again) squandered a golden opportunity to say “thanks for coming” in some way. It could have been “free coffee night” or some other in-game gesture that only people who are in the stadium receive…or a coupon when you left…but they just don’t think that quickly, I suppose.

    Or maybe they think coming out on a 57-degree rainy night and watching two last place teams play and paying $2.00 MORE to do it is reward enough…who knows.

  • Ballmer Bruce

    This management team lacks imagination in all areas, including the overall experience of the the fans at the game. I have attended games at about half of all the major league parks now. Camden Yards is still the best physically but the overall experience offered to the fans lacks compared to other cities.

  • Andrew

    This gets a hearty meh from me. The only thing that’s chased people away has been 13 years of terrible, horrible, shitty baseball. I have a really hard time believing that 2 dollar coupons or more giveaways or bringing back the scalp-free zone or putting Baltimore on the road jerseys or anything outside of actually putting a playoff-caliber team on the field would result in more people in the stands. It’s the losing, stupid, that has drained everyone’s love of baseball in B’more.

    You can say that the owner being all kinds of evil does it, or anything along those lines, but then how do you explain this: in 1998, at the very peak of Angelos’ hubris and meddling, after having chased off Davey Johnson and Jon Miller, the Orioles led the league in attendance. Why? Because they had just been on a roll of 2 very successful years.

    It’s the winning, stupid, that brings people in. Not two dollar coupons or free coffee or getting Brian Matusz to go on the radio or even having an owner that everyone loves. It’s only the winning.

  • Andrew

    I’d also note that saying the team “chased off 90% of the fans in town” is entirely inaccurate, since last year’s attendance was about 51% of their all-time high (1997), but a) I suspect hyperbole, and it isn’t like driving away 49% of your customers is something to be proud of, and b) this’ll just end up with me being called names as if we were all on some kind of internet playground, and I have no desire to live on an internet playground.

  • df1570

    Well, Andrew, if that’s how you feel, then why does every sports franchise in America have (or attempt to have) promotions virtually every time they play a home game?

    Why do teams have special nights, give-aways, coupons on-line, etc.?

    Here’s why: Because not every team can win. And in order to satisfy their customer base in the event the team DOESN’T win, they strive to leave them satisfied with the game-day experience.

    It’s called marketing, Andrew. It doesn’t appeal to you because all you care about is winning. Nice touches like giving our free coffee or free hot chocolate to the 1800 idiots like me who braved the conditions last night doesn’t matter. I get that. You just want the team to win. So do I. But they’re NOT going to win anytime soon, my man. So, as a team employee, you can either sit over at the Warehouse with your johnson hanging out saying, “F*ck the fans…when we we win, those assholes will all come back…” (to YOUR point) — or — you can say, “I’m not sure when we’re going to win again or when they’re going to all come back, but in the meantime, we should show our appreciation for the people who ARE paying the money to come out and watch this product we’re delivering.”

    It’s what makes companies like Starbucks, Chick Fil-A and Panera Bread what they are…customer service. Good product, with outstanding people running their facilities who care about the people buying the product.

    There’s nothing at all wrong with just admitting the team dropped the ball last night by not doing SOMETHING for the folks who came out and watched that game (or tonight’s game, either).

    Holding the team’s feet to the fire and demanding improved treatment of the customers paying their salaries isn’t considered “going over to the dark side with those dicks from WNST”. It should be expected. The same way it’s expected of the Ravens — and delivered by them, of course.

  • Andrew

    I’m not saying that those giveaways aren’t important, or deserved. But giveaways != attendance. There aren’t an appreciable number of people who are going to go out and watch this dreadful team lose to the Royals on a cold wet Monday in May because the team lops off 2 bucks from the tickets or gives out hot cocoa. There just isn’t, and that’s all I’m saying. If we’re going to judge the Orioles based on how many giveaways and other community-based functions they hold, then I’d guess that they are pretty standard as far as baseball teams go, no more no less. They should absolutely do better, but I’m guessing they don’t do poor enough to throw a temper tantrum about it.

    Again: increased attendance is a function of winning, not giveaways, not tv appearances, not community service. Just winning. Which doesn’t make those other things not worthwhile or unimportant in the least.

    Also, come on, Starbucks isn’t about good product, it’s about good marketing names.

  • df1570

    Andrew wrote:

    I’m not saying that those giveaways aren’t important, or deserved. But giveaways != attendance. There aren’t an appreciable number of people who are going to go out and watch this dreadful team lose to the Royals on a cold wet Monday in May because the team lops off 2 bucks from the tickets or gives out hot cocoa. There just isn’t, and that’s all I’m saying. If we’re going to judge the Orioles based on how many giveaways and other community-based functions they hold, then I’d guess that they are pretty standard as far as baseball teams go, no more no less. They should absolutely do better, but I’m guessing they don’t do poor enough to throw a temper tantrum about it.
    Again: increased attendance is a function of winning, not giveaways, not tv appearances, not community service. Just winning. Which doesn’t make those other things not worthwhile or unimportant in the least.
    Also, come on, Starbucks isn’t about good product, it’s about good marketing names.

    You were at least making a somewhat rational argument until this.

    There’s nothing else to say, really, after reading this from you.

    It’s as wrong as wrong can be. Way wrong. More than way wrong. Off the planet wrong.

    But at least you’ve killed the discussion with that entry.

    That’s probably a good thing, actually.

  • Greg

    It’s difficult to go anywhere but up. But changing the managing staff isn’t going to make the team play better. We know what the team is capable of, and truth of the matter is that it was barely a .500 team on paper before the season started! We need legitimate SS, 1B, 2B and LF players if we ever plan to play good baseball in the near future.

    If I had my way though, I’d send Adam Jones packing to join Reimold. I can’t stand watching that guy go up to bat anymore. The feeling is akin to the final days of Jay Gibbons. He needs to know that he’s not untouchable in center field and needs to play baseball like he has a clue before giving him the keys to center field for the next six years.

    If you aren’t going to do that then we need a batting coach who can fix him here at the major league level, because this isn’t a slump. This has been two years of mediocre baseball by Jones split by a torrid three-month run of dominance. How can anyone let that long gone three-month sliver of gold shine so brightly over a vast ocean of dark struggle? Let’s get with it here!

  • neal s

    Lots of good stuff to go through here…a few points:

    On Trembley, it’s a tough situation. They need to be careful to show him the respect he’s earned but it’s hard to imagine exactly how that should go. Is letting him play the loyal soldier for the rest of the season the right move? Is it any better or worse than scouting around for a replacement while he’s still out there plugging away?

    The “right” thing to do might be to fire him and hire some nobody on a (genuinely) interim basis, then conduct a full search in the meantime.

    Regardless I think it’s obvious that he’s not sticking around.

    I agree, Greg, about sending Jones down. I think he needs a kick in the ass. If he goes to Norfolk and tears it up then great — come back and help here. If he goes there and struggles, or displays a bad attitude, then it might be time to cut bait.

    I hate saying any of that, by the way. I love that guy and very much want him to be a star here.

    Andrew is right: winning is the only thing that will reinvigorate this fanbase. Drew is also right that marketing and doing business a little differently can help, but tweaking those things wont bring disgruntled fans back en masse. No chance of that whatsoever.

    How did we get here, again?

  • neal s

    Meanwhile, at the Yard…

    Nice little comeback from the Birds tonight to tie it up at 3-3 in the eighth. Three solo homers – two from Luuuuuuke and one from Corey Patterson.

  • neal s

    Nice win tonight. Real nice. They salvaged a .500 homestand for whatever that’s worth.

    It helps. Doesn’t change my opinion that it’s time to shake things up, but it helps.

  • Mike R

    they got lucky as hell in that last inning. Izzy comes up, 1 out, batting .206, runners on 1st and 2nd. WHY IS TREMBLEY NOT GIVING HIM THE BUNT SIGN? It’s a rhetorical question, we all know the answer. If Butler doesnt boot that ground ball it’s a 3-6-1 double play, and on to the 11th. Bunt, move the runners up so you avoid the inning ending double play, and get Markakis up there. Even if they wanna IBB Cakes you got Tejada up next, still a good option in that situation.

    Cakes got the job done anyway, good to see the win, but still tired of the mismanagement.

  • neal s

    @ Mike R: In that situation (only need one run to win) it doesn’t make much sense to move the runners up with one out. The second out takes away the sac fly, which means that having a guy on third doesn’t amount to much. I know where you’re coming from but in this case the bunt would not have been the right play. They got lucky, sure, but it wasn’t luck in spite of strategy.

  • dan the man

    Andrew, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Win.

    That’s it.

    If we’re 10 games about .500 right now and the ballpark is packed, are we talking about free coffee and coupons? No, of course we’re not. There’s no fucking way we’re talking about free coffee and coupons if we’re winning. None.

    Win.

    The O’s don’t owe me a fucking coupon. I’ll come to the ballpark because I love the team, and I’ll see everyone else there when they’re winning again. So be it. Keep your coupon and other such lame marketing ploy. And I’ll gladly pay an extra $2 just because it means instead of paying $8 to be in the best ballpark in American, I’m paying $10. Inflation is a bitch, but shit, that’s life. If it’s one thing I hate it’s talking Marketing instead of Sports. Jesus… we’re sports fans, not Organization anti-fans with an entitlement complex.

    Good win. The team seems to have enough fight to hover around .500 since the 2-16 start, which says at least a little something, but I’m not sure what. Taking the air out of it a little was Reimold’s 0-3 and Snyder’s 0-4 in AAA tonight. I expect we’ll see Aubrey for the Nats series if not sooner.

  • Mike R

    @ neal s:
    i understand the sac fly is an option if you get the guy to 3rd with one out, but that means Izturis having to get a hit. Or in this case reach by error. He’s barely hitting .200. More often than not he’ll hit into that ground ball double play, which almost happend. Pop out, strike out, he’s not hitting that deep sac fly ball to get the runner over to 3rd. If Luke, or Wiggy was up, sure let the hot bats swing away. But not Izturis. I’d rather have the winning run 90ft away with 2 outs, than on 2nd with 2 outs. With the man on 2nd you need a solid base hit to score him. On 3rd, a bloop single, a slow roller that gets beat out, a bobbled ball, a wild pitch, a balk we win. It’s a valid arguement either way, but in that particular situation, the odds were not in Izzy’s favor to advance the runner without getting out, I’d want Cakes hitting with the man on 3rd, not 2nd, and definitely not leading off the next inning, which almost happend.

  • Andrew

    So, as some of you might know, I recently moved to Virginia away from sunny Rochester, NY (that might not be an accurate descriptor) and I am now more or less friendless. Not that I’m looking for pity, because I’m enjoying my new life very much so.

    Anyway, this weekend I’m heading to one of the O’s-Nats games and over to Bowie to see either Steve Johnson or Zach Britton pitch. It’ll probably be Nats on Friday and Baysox on Saturday. If anyone’s interested in having some beers and talking baseball then consider this an open invitation, since otherwise it’ll just be me and whoever happens to be sitting around me.

  • Does anyone else think it’s super stupid that Luke Scott has a sign on his locker that says “I’ll take my money, my guns and my freedom…you can keep the change”?

    I just don’t see the point of putting up a sign like that so that it’s visible and will unnecessarily offend many of those watching. I mean, granted, there’s probably somewhere in the neighborhood of eleven people watching the postgame show on MASN and the only reason I was watching is because the guide said women’s college softball was on and I was looking to peel one off. After seeing this though, let’s just say I could have easily taken the gold at the Lake Flaccid Olympics.

    Next time I’m out at the park, instead of luuuuke, I will be saying Dooooouuuuuuche.

  • @ George:

    You can’t hate retards for being retarded.

    He’s just a good ol boy…never meanin’ no harm.

    But if you’re looking for quality women’s sports/self-abuse pairing, try that soccer game where that girl from New Mexico drags that Mormon girl down by her ponytail for tugging on her shorts.

  • I do enjoy the self-abuse but I been seen that game. Brandi! Brandi! Brandi!