Baltimore Orioles: What’s considered tampering?
If you haven’t read masnsports.com’s Steve Melewski’s article from yesterday on the Dan Duquette saga, I’d recommend giving it a look. Melewski spoke with Scott Stinson, a columnist for the National Post in Canada – regarding the Dan Duquette situation, which yes I recognize is quickly becoming one of my favorite topics. From what Stinson’s been able to deduce, in early December someone from Rogers Communication (the company which owns the Blue Jays) made some informal phone calls to the Orioles about Duquette (as well as to the ChiSox about Kenny Williams). So…when does it cease being a casual conversation and begin being tampering?
Let’s be honest; we’re kidding ourselves if we think that tampering doesn’t go on in sports all the time. Look at how literally the minute free agency begins in the NFL each year, players start getting contracts with new teams. Are we really buying the story that the contract negotiations opened one minute and a dea was ironed out the next? As they say on ESPN, “…c’mon man.”
However that aside, Stinson admitted that in these cases a formal request is usually made from one front office to another. According to Peter Angelos, it seems that at some point between then and now that has now actually happened. But if Stinson is to be believed that didn’t occur until after some conversations were had, which seemed to frost Angelos and ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf (rightfully so).
Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
I’m not sure whether or not this classifies as tampering, however if this story is true I would submit that it was at the very least inappropriate. Toronto shouldn’t kid themselves into believing that they’d be happy if the shoe was on the other foot. But again, we’re naive if we’re going to believe that this type of thing doesn’t happen across sports – in this case Toronto probably wasn’t as discreet about it as they could have been.
In my opinion what’s happened here is a true travesty in the sense that it’s created a toxic environment within the Orioles’ front office, which otherwise didn’t exist. And make no mistake about the fact that it’s highly probable that Toronto was trying to create that. Let’s look at when this story has been discussed; just prior to the winter meetings, and now right as the team’s wrapping up minicamp in Sarasota. Are we to believe that’s all coincidental?
This is an organization which has seemed to have a problem with the Orioles at every step of the way – and it’s really unclear as to why. Numerous Oriole players were hit in fairly suspicious manners in games against Toronto last season, most notably in the game where the O’s clinched the AL East. The Orioles (led by Duquette of course and Buck Showalter) also managed to keep Steve Pearce last season when in fact Toronto wanted to claim him while he was briefly a free agent. Mind you the Orioles didn’t do anything underhanded, dirty, or against the rules in that scenario, however it was something that was highly resented in the Toronto camp.
Nevertheless, my recommendation to the Orioles would be to petition MLB to issue a stern warning across the board simply as a reminder that tampering or anything that resembles it is against the rules. I’m all in favor of going after people who violate the rules, however I suspect that Toronto was discreet enough not to full on do just that, but not discreet enough to prevent this from becoming a media circus (in which somehow I feel that the Orioles still came out looking like the bad guys).
As I stated above, Duquette seems to know how to exploit loopholes so to speak so as to manipulate the roster – keeping Pearce is a prime example. So perhaps Toronto tried to engage in an anything you can do I can do better type of act in trying to “out-Duquette” the Orioles in obtaining Duquette’s services. Regardless of who was right or wrong, it looks like that didn’t work. So that said I made the recommendation above to the Orioles that they just ask the league to remind every team that they have an obligation to follow the rules. My recommendation to Toronto would be to do exactly what the Orioles did: improve your product on the field through hard work and with character guys. That, as opposed to trying to be sneaky.