Brian Roberts and others helped the Baltimore Orioles along
As the Baltimore Orioles get set for game one of the ALCS tomorrow night against Kansas City, it’s fun at times to look back at some of the brighter spots for the franchise through the 14 years of losing. Without a doubt, the standard-bearer in this discussion is Brian Roberts. For many years, he was the franchises’ token all-star participant. While the end of his tenure in Baltimore was marred by injuries, one would hope that most fans would remember the good times of Roberts’ time in Baltimore.
Roberts was in effect a semi-link to the franchise’s past, as he played very briefly with Cal Ripken Jr. at the beginning of his career. I would
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submit that for quite a few years, he was the closest thing to the face of the franchise that the Orioles had. And for sure, he was a good player. He was a very successful lead off hitter for a very long time in Baltimore, and perhaps most importantly he was a stolen base threat when he got on base. Not to mention that he was a pretty decent second baseman. My personal opinion is that if there’s one signature Brian Roberts moment in Baltimore, it would be hitting a walk off home run against New York at Camden Yards in July of 2005.
Roberts’ contemporary so to speak at the hot corner was Melvin Mora. Let’s be clear; Mora probably paled in comparison to the other third basemen in baseball at the time, and odds are he would be a mere utility player on today’s team. But Melvin Mora played hard everyday he was in the lineup. Again, he wasn’t the perfect guy at third, however when given the opportunity he was capable of gold glove-type plays.
This is not to say that he was always perfect; at times he would spout off in the media about what was going on in the clubhouse or on the field. At times he wasn’t immune to that; however most of the times he would do such things in an effort to make things better within the organization. Mora was a fighter, and he always fought for the best interests of the organization and in hopes that he could make things better.
These players are just examples of guys that helped the Orioles along the way. However one other person I’ll mention is former manager Dave Trembley. At the time he was hired (to replace disposed manager Sam Perlozzo) I felt that he was a good baseball man who might be able to make a difference. While he fell short of those goals, he did make a difference in the way that the organization did things on the field. He was given a team of vets such as the aforementioned Roberts and Mora, along with Nick Markakis. The Orioles formed much of the nucleus they have today under Trembley. The likes of Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and others made their big league debuts during his time in the dugout at the yard.
Again, Dave Trembley was in charge of the organization during the arrival and debut time of many of the Orioles’ current stars. However it was too early and not enough for the franchise to “pop” as it has in the past couple of seasons (to use Buck Showalter‘s term).
But these three people are guys that gave everything they had to the organization during some very dark times, but weren’t necessarily rewarded for their efforts. I would also involve Nick Markakis in this conversation, however he’s also a current Oriole and thus reaping the rewards of the current state of the franchise.
I would submit that these people and others should take as much ownership in the Orioles’ current success as anyone. At the end of the day, these were some of the people who helped to put the franchise in a position to win in 2012 and onward. And they’re as much a 2014 AL East champion as the likes of Markakis, Showalter, or Jones. And it is today, that Birdland tips it’s cap to them.
One final thing about Trembley. He would sign autographs for fans for 20-30 minutes before every game – home or away. Often witnessing this scene up close, I would notice that Trembley would pay special attention to kids in the crowd; he would ask them what their favorite position was on the field, and then attempt to teach them something about that position or perhaps about a legend who played there. Trembley obviously didn’t think twice about this five minutes later; however those kids will NEVER forget the day that they met and spoke to a big league manager. That’s exactly the type of thing that players and managers should be doing league-wide. It ensures the youth of today remain interested in baseball, and thus it ensures the future of the game. Kudos to Dave Trembley in that regard.