MASN’s Steve Melewski published this article last week regarding the type of people that made up the 2012 Baltimore Orioles. Notice I didn’t say players; I said people. Baseball’s nothing more than a business, right? So look at the Orioles as what they are: a company. Most people are employed at a company because they’re good at what they do. However that in and of itself is not the only thing that’s important in terms of whether or not the person should be working there.
If you read Melewski’s piece (which I highly recommend) you’ll notice that he talks about how in the past Oriole pitchers might have commented about how they had two or three calls go against them. Instead, most of the players’ comments after losses were to the effect of “I/we have to be better.” Translate that over into the corporate world for a moment; if someone makes a mistake, doesn’t it sound better to say “I know I messed this up and I’m going to take steps to ensure that I don’t do it again” as opposed to “um…it wouldn’t have happened if this other thing didn’t happen”? Melewski also mentions players being available to the media after a bad loss or after making a mistake that cost the team a game, which wasn’t always the case in the past. Bryce Harper of the Nationals caused a bit of a frenzy when he refused to talk to the media after a bad game against the New York Yankees. Again, translate that over to the corporate world; if someone makes a mistake they should be willing to sit in the bosses office and admit to it, rather than just calling in sick and hoping the storm blows over.
Ultimately the bottom line isn’t necessarily character as you move through a season, it’s wins and losses. However character does in fact count folks. Players who allow themselves to be accountable are going to grow stronger and come together more and more as the season goes on. That’s exactly what we saw in 2012 from the O’s. However perhaps more importantly than that, there’s another part of the character argument. It’s also about how you conduct yourself. When the Orioles signed Albert Belle after the 1998 season most fans were glad to have such a huge bat in the lineup but wary of his antics. His run-ins with almost anyone and everyone were well-publicized. In fairness, Belle didn’t get into any fights or misbehave too badly while in Baltimore (before being forced to retire after 2000 with a hip injury), he continued his tradition of not granting interviews and in effect maintaining a fairly chilly relationship with the media. That speaks loudly about character. Going back even further into Orioles history, we all remember Glenn Davis being traded here in 1991. I suppose I don’t need to bring up the infamous bar fight in Norfolk, VA, or Davis’ outright release after fighting with manager Johnny Oates.
Instead, the 2012 Orioles had guys that were not only willing to face the music when things went south, but that seemed to keep their noses clean. All of this is why I feel that the off season of 2012-13 could be one of the most important in Orioles’ history. We’ll get more into this as time goes on, however needless to say the 2013 roster is going to look starkly different than that of 2012. The core of Jones, Wieters, Machado, Hardy, Markakis, Davis, Jim Johnson, et al, will be the same without a doubt. However the supporting cast might be a bit different. The Orioles need to do a good job of vetting all potential candidates in that sense because all it takes is one problem child and suddenly you have trouble in your clubhouse. The good news is that I’ve seen nothing from Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette that would indicate that they won’t make the right decision regarding this for the 2013 season. Everything else they’ve done thus far has worked.