So Baltimore, with a Census report of about 11,000 Hispanic residents in the city and 14,000 in Baltimore County, isn't South Florida. There's no Little Havana. There's no Calle Ocho. No one's going to mistake the Inner Harbor for the turquoise water of Biscayne Bay.
But if there was any greater symbol of how far and fast the Orioles have come, it's that not only are they the prime buyers for big-name talent, but also that the big-name talent is from Latin countries. It's a sign that the Orioles have broken free into the new world of baseball.
The Oriole Way is back in vogue, but with an exciting twist that shows the organization is sailing smoothly in the right kind of waters. The best position players in the big leagues are heralding from outposts where baseball still holds special allure, where it's part of the daily fabric of life, not to mention a ticket out of poverty. That has changed in the United States, where kids have so many diverse interests and opportunities that fewer and fewer position players develop. There's a reason it's been so long since the Orioles have produced a player the caliber of Cal Ripken.
That's why Tejada was as good a place to start as anywhere. He paves the way for the dominoes to fall, the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans to follow. Bring on Guerrero. Bring on Pudge or Javy Lopez.
Heck, bring back the Aruban knight and Cuba's Rafael Palmeiro. Tell 'em all of Baltimore is taking Spanish lessons, and when they sign, we're all going to Carolinas on Broadway for a celebratory plate of pollo guisado. Ole!