Andy MacPhail is BSing Orioles fans

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The Orioles have a long way to go, but they are actually doing a fairly good job of building their team (I don’t call it “rebuilding” because that would imply that there was anything there in the first place).  They have some good young position players. There are some young arms on the rise. There is reason to hope in Baltimore.

So why, then, does GM Lee Andy MacPhail [hey — Lee’s still alive, but at age 92, I don’t think he’s the one I meant] come out and talk about the noise they could maybe possibly make on the free agent market?  In the article he talks about the Orioles’ payroll flexibility.  Which is fine, because it’s technically true. But then he goes on and on about how they offered Mark Teixeira $140 million last year, implying that they could make big splashes like that in the future and don’t count the O’s out and all of that kind of stuff.  Which is either (a) dumb; or (b) disingenuous.

It’s dumb if MacPhail really thinks that the Orioles should be out playing in big-money free agent land.  There aren’t any impact free agents out there this year, and certainly not any that will be around long enough to be strong contributors for an Orioles team that likely won’t contend for a while.  Matt Holliday and John Lackey and guys who will eat up big money over multiple years and be on the downside of their careers by the time Matt Weiters is leading the Orioles to winning seasons are not what the Orioles need right now.

But MacPhail is a pretty smart guy, and I think he knows that.  Which is why I think this is mostly disingenuousness at work.  The Orioles aren’t going to play that market, nor should they. They were burned on bad free agent signings for a decade. There was almost zero chance that Mark Teixeira was going to sign with Baltimore for $140 million last year.  MacPhail knows this, and smart, hardcore Orioles fans know this as well.  In suggesting otherwise, MacPhail is likely trying to play to the casual fans, hoping to drum up ticket sales and excitement during a long cold winter.

The Peter Angelos era has been characterized by the Orioles messing with what once was a solid fanbase. Years of trying to put together Frankenteams of veteran castoffs and milking Ripken’s legacy and a nice park rather than building a strong foundation for the future like the Orioles teams of yore used to do.  Now that they’re finally doing that, the Orioles should be straight with their fans. They should tell them “Hey, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting there. We have a lot of exciting young players. There’s no one out in free agent land that’s truly going to help us, so don’t hold your breath for a signing.”

Such a gesture may not seem like much — and talking up the free agent market may not seem all that harmful — but there has been a lot of broken trust in Baltimore over the past fifteen years.  Now would be a great time for the Orioles to fix that, and they can do so by simply shooting straight with their fans and not promising them pie in the sky.

A Twins player confronted a Twins announcer about what he said on a broadcast

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We seem to get a story like this from a struggling team every couple of years. This year it’s the Twins and the story is about words said by one of the Twins players to Fox Sports North broadcaster Dick Bremer. From Mike McFeely of WDAY radio, who spoke to Bremer recently:

Surprisingly, Bremer said one player has confronted him this season about being too critical of the team. Bremer wouldn’t name the player.

“I make it a practice to go in the clubhouse every day and go down on the field, so if a player has a complaint about something I’ve said on television they have that opportunity,” Bremer said. “I was confronted in the clubhouse in the last homestand. I didn’t say what I wanted to say, which was, ‘Well, play better and the commentary will be more positive.’ You can’t mask the fact this team is a quarter of the way through the season with 10 wins.”

The whole article is interesting because it gives several examples of Bremer and his colleague, Bert Blyleven, being critical. Depending on which instance — and there were likely many not mentioned here — blowback from players may have more or less justification.

On the one hand, simply saying a player executed a given play poorly or saying that the team was performing poorly is a simple fact. On the other, an example was given in which Blyleven questioned why Phil Hughes was taken out of a game. It was only later revealed that he was experiencing shoulder soreness, but it was suggested that Blyelven was questioning his toughness at the moment. I agree with Bremer that if the players don’t want to be criticized they should play better. But it crosses a line in my mind when poor play is used to imply poor or weak character, especially when not all facts are known. Not all situations are the same.

Overall, though, despite the complaint of this anonymous Twins player, I think local broadcasts are too deferential to the home team far too often. The broadcasters have seen more baseball than almost every viewer and in many cases played it. I don’t think it’s out of line for them to offer objective, informed criticism of bad play even if that’s out of fashion in today’s world. That they seem very clearly pressured by the clubs with whom their employers are partnered to do otherwise is a shame and does a disservice to viewers.

And heck. It’s boring too.

Ryan Vogelsong placed on the DL with facial fractures

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 23: Ryan Vogelsong #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is carted off the field after being hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Jordan Lyles #24 of the Colorado Rockies in the second inning during the game at PNC Park on May 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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The Pirates have announced that starter Ryan Vogelsong has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to facial fractures.

Vogelsong suffered the fractures yesterday afternoon when he was batting and was hit by a pitch by Colorado Rockies starter Jordan Lyles. Vogelsong, was taken off the field on a cart and admitted to a local hospital. A.J. Schugel has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogelsong’s place on the roster.

The Padres National Anthem debacle explained

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Outsports has what should be the final word about Saturday’s National Anthem debacle at Petco Park before the Dodgers-Padres game.

The upshot: it was not, not surprisingly, a homophobic conspiracy. Rather It was a series of unfortunate occurrences and dumb mistakes, once again validating the old saying about how one need not look to evil motives when mere stupidity can explain things. This is one of those times. Go read the post for the entire explanation. The short version of that is that, like a lot of anthem singers, the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus was to sing along with a backing tape of themselves performing the anthem. The DJ in charge of it played the wrong date’s backing tape. He played the one from the female singer the night before.

In addition, Outsports spoke with that DJ — DJ Artform — who is embarrassed by his mistake and by not doing anything to correct it in the moment. DJ Artform was a contractor and his relationship with the Padres was terminated.

So that seems to be that. Until the next thing anyway. There is always a next thing.

Cubs release Shane Victorino

shane victorino getty
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File this under “not terribly surprising,” but Shane Victorino was released from his minor league contract with the Cubs yesterday after batting .233/.324/.367 through nine games with Triple-A Iowa. Victorino says he does not plan on retiring, however, and that he plans to try to latch on someplace else.

It’ll be a supreme long shot. Victorino, 35, Victorino suffered a calf injury during spring training and missed all of spring training. Last year he played in only 71 games between the Red Sox and Angels, and 30 in 2014 with the Red Sox. He was last healthy and effective in 2013. In a league where older players don’t do as well as they used to, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to find a gig.

If this is the end of the road for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, he’ll finish with a career batting line of .2750/.340/.425 with 108 homers, 489 RBI, 231 stolen bases and four Gold Glove Awards in 12 seasons. He also has two World Series rings, from the 2008 Phillies and the 2013 Red Sox. He was a two-time All-Star.

Maybe not the way he wanted to end his career, if this is indeed the end, but Victorino had a fine career while it lasted.