Apr 11, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman (30) is relieved by Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) during the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles and the Human Element in Professional Sports


Baltimore Orioles and the Human Element in Professional SportsThe baseball news over the weekend was all about Alex Rodriguez and his announced 162-game suspension. In a word, the whole thing is annoying. Actually, no, it takes a few more words … like distracting, disturbing,  or freakish to name a few.

I don’t want to write about this. I don’t like writing about these sideshow events. It is not baseball. I want to write about on-base percentages, and talk walks and hits per innings pitched, etc. It is just annoying to have to get distracted to talk about PEDs and accusations back and forth … examining the ethics of MLB’s response, etc.

But it is impossible to not acknowledge it. There are impacts. Whatever is going on with the Yankees has some measure of ripple effect upon the Baltimore Orioles.

The biggest impact is that the Yankees will now save 25 million dollars in salary to spend on someone else who will likely improve their squad more than the retained, aged freak show that is ARod. There is only one word that comes to mind first on that thought – annoying!  Really! Even when the Yankees lose, they win.

Actually, a big winner through all of this may ultimately be former Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds. The Yanks now need to deal with that position, and Reynolds is available.

As distracting as all of this is for MLB, there is no escaping the occasional displays of the worst human behavior. Frankly, there is a great deal more of bad character and poor deportment in the other two major sports of football and basketball. That adds to why I’m a baseball guy first.

Another reason I am slow to write about a topic like ARod, or something like Peter Angelos and his presumed tight-wad tendencies, is because I am not a first-hand witness to these events and people, and I can only go with what others have written. There is more that I don’t know than what I do know about these things. And though my contacts with Orioles personnel is limited, when I am writing about players past, present or future, I can at least write about what I have myself seen.

But baseball is of necessity more than a kid’s game played at the highest level by skilled adults; it is a big business. And that means money, along with greed, conflict, and a host of other ailments of the human condition. I can explain this psychologically and theologically, but I have blogs in other places for that train of analysis.

But there is an element to the Orioles that I like and respect – something that I’m sure is not completely isolated to this current team – but is something more rare than common in professional sports. I’m speaking of the culture of individual caring that characterizes the team – at least from Showalter and below.

As I quoted Buck in yesterday’s article from two years ago. He said, “The real thing is knowing the players – they’re not robots. I want to know what’s going on in their lives – everyone has a story of what’s going on.”

Beyond that, he is often seen being personally affected by a special moment in a player’s life or career.

In yesterday’s Roch Kubatko about new pitching coach Dave Wallace, the Orioles’ new set of eyes was quoted as saying, “I prefer to take my time and our time, I guess, as a staff to really get to know these guys and know their deliveries and know their personalities and know what they’re all about, so when you make that first recommendation, your chances are better of them going, ‘Oh, OK.’ They buy in and all of a sudden there’s a trust factor that builds. But that takes some time, so I guess I’m one of those guys who’s a slow-hand approach, I guess you would call it.”

Okay… enough psychobabble … gonna look for real baseball to write about next time.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles