In a previous life I was a bureaucrat. I wrote speeches for government ministers on several different subjects, ranging from the automotive sector to tax breaks for farmers who install wind turbines on their land. Most of the cliches about working for the government are true, but there are several people in public service who are not lazy, incompetent or unmotivated.
I had the pleasure of working for a few of them, but unfortunately the most memorable moments of my career in public service were spent working for a complete and utter buffoon. As a writer for the government, it’s difficult to take pride in your work because by the time a product is finished, it’s gone through more levels of approval than a karate class at a strip mall dojo. It’s even more difficult when the directives you’re given by your overseer are so completely off base, others in the approval chain begin questioning your ability to retain information.
We make fun of baseball general managers a lot on this blog, questioning their actions, decisions and justifications. One of our favourite targets has been Ned Colletti in Los Angeles. However, recently, we’ve been giving him some grace due to the ownership he’s been working under. To this point, Baltimore Orioles GM Andy MacPhail has received no such suspension of scorn despite being under the thumb of majority owner Peter Angelos, arguably the most meddling owner in baseball.
Last night, a story broke that MacPhail, the architect of a team fifteen games below .500 despite an $85 million payroll, plans to walk away from the Orioles when his contract expires in October. It might be easy for Orioles fans to say good riddance to an executive who couldn’t see the value in having Alex Rodriguez on his team, but in fairness, it’s not difficult to imagine that his role with the club was not one of total autonomy.
Back in 2009, Sports Illustrated listed the top and bottom owners in baseball, ranking Angelos as the worst. This is what they had to say:
When the Baltimore lawyer took control of the team in 1993, it was a year removed from its Camden Yards debut with a stacked roster Angelos allowed former GM Pat Gillick to build. The O’s went on to make the first of two consecutive ALCS appearances just three years later. Then Angelos began his notorious meddling, firing popular manager Davey Johnson, burning through another five managers, killing trades proposed by his GMs and stripping down one of baseball’s proudest franchises. The O’s haven’t finished above .500 in 11 seasons since their last playoff appearance.
Flash forward back to the future, and the Orioles are three losses away from their 14th consecutive losing season. With an elimination number that currently sits at two, Baltimore will be the first American League team to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
When asked about the rumours of his departure, MacPhail indicated that all would be revealed once the season had concluded:
Let’s just get to the end of the year and see what unfolds. We’ll see. We’ll see. I know there’s a lot of speculation, but that comes with the territory.
Unfortunately for MacPhail, the front office territory in Baltimore is a little bit more difficult to navigate than most. So, while it may be easy to mock the signings of Vladimir Guerrero, Kevin Gregg and Jeremy Accardo, we might do well to remember that there’s more going on there than simply bad decisions.
It doesn’t help that those bad decisions tend to get amplified in comparison to the division rivals in the American League East whose increasing competition at the strategic level is leaving Baltimore in the dust, but there’s a reason the Orioles have been lagging in this department. And while it may be easy to point to a general manager in most cases, as long as Angelos is providing the directives to that GM, the finger wagging should be directed at him.
And The Rest
The Red Sox / Yankees rivalry is a rivalry again.
Mark your calendars for September 6th. Stephen Strasburg will make his season debut.
Consider this, consider this the tweet of the Century.
This would only explain the San Francisco Giants payroll system if the majority of the embezzled money came from Aubrey Huff’s contract.
Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez suffered a setback in his rehab and now faces doubt as to whether or not he’ll play again this season.
How can you not love Ozzie Guillen’s negotiation skills. I’m surprised he hasn’t guest starred on Suits yet.
Today in not good: Justin Morneau is sidelined with concussion symptoms . . . again.
It’s always a special thing when an organization, after years of fielding sub par baseball teams, rewards the good will of their fans by pissing all over them.
HoJo and GlenJo are teammates!
If this doesn’t fly in San Francisco, where can it be done?
Barry Bonds will be sentenced on December 16th. Let this be a lesson: never mutter under oath.
Via Score Buzz, it’s some more foul ball trouble:
They still do these: