Courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Character counts

With Boston winning the world series the other night, the 2013 MLB season has officially come to an end – for everyone. However I suspect that there are a few hard feelings on the part of Baltimore Orioles fans given that Boston is a franchise that the O’s appeared to have by the throat last year, and now they’re world series champions. One thing that we’ve heard over the past couple of days is how great of a franchise Boston is, with “character guys.” First off, there are some character guys on that team, starting with Dustin Pedroia. However overall, what makes one a “character guy?”

I would submit that people could still look to the 2011 Orioles for true grit and character. That was a team that had no reason to play hard down the stretch, yet they taught a lesson in humility in how hard they played. It’s kind of the whole argument of “what do you do when people aren’t looking?” But while there are some stark differences between the 2012 and 2013 Red Sox in terms of personnel, there are also some similarities. Let’s not allow 2012 to be lost in the sense that this was a team who probably didn’t like their manager (Bobby Valentine) from the get go. However I wouldn’t even say that the team quit on the manager last season – they flat out never showed up.

If the goal of the 2012 BoSox was to get rid of Valentine, then I guess you’d have to say that their season was a rousing success. In fairness, Valentine didn’t exactly come across as easy to deal with; I believe that the highlight of his season was lifting Kevin Youkilis from a game just before he was traded, giving him a chance to bow before the Fenway Faithful. This doesn’t dim the accomplishments of the 2013 BoSox, however we shouldn’t forget that this was a team that internally had a mutiny one year prior.

Were the 2013 Red Sox better than the Orioles? In a sense they were if the final outcome means anything, although the O’s had a winning record against Boston this year. But I would submit that a lesson in team character can still be learned by the Red Sox in looking at the 2011 Orioles, who defeated them to keep them out of the post season on the final day. That Orioles team didn’t give up even given the stakes for which they were playing, and started the moniker of “play until the final out” which we’ve come to know so well.

I would submit that character counts in all things, although I’m sure Boston fans are probably saying we’ll take our ring while you tout your character. And that’s a very good point, given that just like anything else sports is a results-based business. However I’ll also say that when the BoSox played at the yard back in June, John Lackey showed through body language on numerous occasions that he felt he was being let down by teammates. I said at the time on twitter that I wasn’t a big fan of that kind of thing because it shows you standing apart from your team. Lackey and his buddies may well be champions now, and they’re certainly to be congratulated for a job well done. However do you really want someone in the foxhole with you who’s going to be that fickle. Character counts.

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  • nuwriter

    Yes, character counts – and the 2013 Red Sox showed as much character as any team in baseball.

    It does seem that you have forgotten entirely what actually occurred during the Red Sox 2012 season. Let’s not forget that the “mutineers” of the 2012 Red Sox were not on the 2013 team. If you want to talk about them, then you should have been writing about the Dodgers. Let’s also not forget what an awful manager Bobby Valentine was last year – publicly insulting his players. He also insisted on continuing to put Alfredo Aceves in critical situations – and he blew game after game.

    Let’s also not let go of the ridiculous amount of games missed due to injury by the 2012 Red Sox – nearly 1,500 in all. Ortiz was having a career year through 90 games, when an injury cost him the rest of the season. Jacoby Ellsbury was limited to only 74 games. Will Middlebrooks missed the last month of the season with a broken hand. The 2012 Red Sox struggled because their best players weren’t playing. Pedro Ciriaco became a regular. The pitching staff was also riddled with injuries. Nobody from the 2012 Red Sox bullpen was on the 2013 postseason roster. No one.

    It also seems that you missed the 2013 season as well. “Were the 2013 Red Sox better than the Orioles? In a sense they were if the final outcome means anything, although the O’s had a winning record against Boston this year.”

    This is utter nonsense. The 2013 Red Sox were better than the Orioles in every sense. They finished 12 games better than them in the standings, and won the World Series. Yes, the Orioles won the season series. But the Orioles lost the season series to the Mariners. In a sense, were the Mariners better than the Orioles? This is of course, nonsensical – but it’s the only conclusion that your logic allows.

    All of John Lackey’s teammates seem to want him in their foxhole. They know that he pitched the 2011 season with a serious elbow injury. But you didn’t know that? There’s nothing “fickle” about John Lackey. I think I’ll take the opinions of Lackey’s teammates, who see him day in and day out, over the opinion of someone who may have seen a gesture he didn’t approve of.

    This is not to take anything away from the character of the Baltimore Orioles – but to claim that the Boston Red Sox lack shows that you just aren’t paying nearly the attention you think you are. You’re basing your whole argument on the actions of players no longer on the team, and a gesture you thought you saw. It’s a weak argument at best.

    Dominic, could learn a lot about character from the 2013 Red Sox.

    Your last statement, “we’ll take our ring while you tout your character” is a strawman. Yes, we’ll take the ring, but we’ll tout our character as well.

  • Domenic Vadala

    My point with Lackey was about body language. If I had a teammate who in effect called me out with his body language, I wouldn’t take too kindly to him. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about your business; that’s not the right way. Taking responsibility is the right way; so the right way for Lackey to look at it would have been to think to himself that if he hadn’t made a bad pitch his teammate wouldn’t have been in a spot to bail him out or let him down. You never show disappointment in a teammate – NEVER.

    Bobby V was a bad manager. But his team didn’t even quit on him; they never tried. If for no other reason, you should always play hard FOR YOU. Instead, many of those guys mauled it in because they didn’t like the manager. That’s not “character.” Showing hats yet would be playing hard at all times regardless of who’s in charge.

    2012 will largely be forgotten by Boston fans, as well as the national media, mostly because history is always written by the victors. Incidentally my name is in the article – if you’re going to use it in your commentary spell it right.