Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Game 58: Changing Of The Guards

It's been only five days and three games since the Yankees and O's last met but, for the Orioles at least, much has changed in that time. After getting swept by the Yankees last Thursday night, Baltimore returned home and fired manager Dave Trembley Friday morning. It was hardly a surprise; rumors of Trembley's impending termination had circulated for weeks. In fact, in many ways, it was probably a relief to Trembley, who by all accounts is a good baseball man, but also clearly wasn't getting it done and seemed to have run out of answers.

Juan Samuel took over for Trembley on an interim basis, becoming the third consecutive Orioles manager to take the helm mid-season. He lost his first two games to run the O's losing streak to ten in row, 12 of 13, 14 of 16, and 17 of 20, before recording his first managerial victory with an extra inning decision over Boston on Sunday. He had yesterday's off day to bask in the glow of his win, but things won't be getting any easier for him with the Yankees in town for three before kicking off two weeks of interleague play.

Not only is Samuel the third consecutive mid-season hire for Baltimore, following Trembley and Sam Perlozzo, but he's also the fourth consecutive Oriole hire with no prior Big League managerial experience, a trend that started when the O's hired then-Yankee coach Lee Mazzilli following the 2003 season.

Going with a rookie manager four times in a row hasn't brought much success for the Orioles, but it's not as if they were tremendously successful under previous retreads Mike Hargrove and Ray Miller. The truth of the matter is, the Orioles haven't been worth a damn since 1997, when they went 98-64, won the AL East, and advanced to the ALCS. After that season manager Davey Johnson resigned, and the O's haven't had a winning season since.

Johnson made a cameo at the draft last night, serving as one of the Washington Nationals representatives as the Orioles' Beltway rivals selected super-hyped phenom Bryce Harper with the top pick in the draft. Tonight, just down I-295, those same Nationals will host the Pirates in the most anticipated game of the season, in front of a sold out house, as last year's top overall super-hyped pick Stephen Strasburg makes his Major League debut. Meanwhile, even with the Yankees in town, Baltimore will fail to fill their park, which was once one of the hottest tickets in the Majors.

While Washington had to suffer through two consecutive seasons of having the Major's worst record in order to secure those coveted young talents, it is now the Orioles who occupy the MLB basement. Typical of their recent luck, they're on pace to have the top pick in next year's draft - the first draft in three years that doesn't figure to have a once-in-a-generation type talent sitting at the top of the heap.

In the history of mid-Atlantic baseball, tonight could mark a turning point. After arriving in Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954, the Orioles quickly established themselves as a model franchise. "The Oriole Way" became a shining example of how to run an organization, leading to World Series titles in 1966, 1970, and 1983, AL Pennants in 1969, 1971, and 1979, and ALCS losses in four other years. It generated Hall of Famers in Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken Jr.

The strength and proximity of the O's made it was easier for the region to stomach the original Senators leaving Washington after the 1960 season, and then the expansion franchise leaving after the 1971 season. The Orioles extended run of quality play softened the blow of the Nation's Capital being without a Big League team for the next thirty three seasons.

But tonight, with Strasburg debuting, with Harper soon to be in tow, with another mid-season interim rookie manager in the Baltimore dugout, and with Baltimore staring down their thirteenth consecutive losing season, we might just be witnessing a changing of the guards in metro-D.C. baseball.

Gentlemen, he said,
I don't need your organization, I've shined your shoes,
I've moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards.
[Song Notes: Another epic tale from Dylan. The video quality isn't great, but the options are limited as the song has rarely been played live.]


Not much to say here. This is what passes for the regular lineup right now. Perhaps the comforts of home can help Mark Teixeira snap out of his season-long funk. Phil Hughes faces Baltimore for his second consecutive start and third time this year.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner LF

RHP Phil Hughes

Julio Lugo 2B
Miguel Tejada 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Not Pacman Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Lou Montanez LF
Cesar Izturis SS

RHP Kevin Millwood


  1. Great choice; one of my favorite Dylan tunes.

  2. Obviously the Yankees are my one true baseball love, but living in Washington has given me a second place love for the Nationals. (Plus they always get the reject Yankees.) So I love that you gave them a shout out today.

  3. "Hey little thing let me light your candle 'cause mama Teixiera is having a hard time handlin the curve, now, gets around"

  4. I must agree with the brilliant commenter who shares my name.