Teams scurry to get their man, except O's

October 07, 2005|By RICK MAESE

The buzz is absolutely kinetic this time of year. The news reports fly in at all angles and it's hard to keep them straight.

The Devil Rays canned their general manager yesterday. The Athletics are moving forward with their managerial search. The Dodgers have a list of five candidates and they're starting the interview process. The Pirates have already spoken with Jim Tracy and the agent of Ken Macha. The Marlins have received permission to interview Joe Girardi.

And here in Baltimore, you ask? Same as it ever was. From the outside, the warehouse seemed pretty quiet yesterday, the fourth straight day fans waited with bated breath for any inkling of news.

Is this how they felt outside the Vatican last spring? Will we ever see smoke rise from the roof and clue us in on the new Orioles leader?

We're left to carefully study vague hints. All signs seem to indicate that Sam Perlozzo will be the Orioles' permanent manager. An announcement probably won't come until next week.

The baseball world has been spinning very fast this week, and the Orioles have been standing still and watching. No other organization in sports operates this way.

Did you watch how the Detroit Tigers handled their managerial change earlier this week? On Monday, they fired Alan Trammell. By the end of the day, they'd interviewed three candidates. On Tuesday, they announced that Jim Leyland would be the field general next season.

The Orioles are the only team in baseball that could make the Tigers look functional.

On Wednesday, Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield interviewed Tracy, the ousted Dodgers manager. Littlefield is also believed to be talking with Macha's agent. Tracy and Macha both barely received their walking papers this week, but Littlefield is wasting no time.

Do you know why? Six other teams have managerial openings, and he feels "a certain sense of urgency to get something done." That's how he explained it in an Associated Press report.

I can't believe that the Orioles simply lack that sense of urgency. For some reason, though, they seem content to let us all think they're merely navel-gazing. It's tough to come up with another explanation.

Peter Angelos is a methodical man. He will not make a move without investing ample time to deliberate. But the lingering silence creates a growing nervousness in the pit of everyone's stomach.

Perlozzo wore that "interim manager" tag the final 8 1/2 weeks of the season with pride. In the final days of the season, he spoke with an air of confidence, as though the job were his on a permanent basis.

He expected a phone call early in the week. And why shouldn't he? The Orioles' brass has had two months to mull this decision.

"I can't say I'm worried," he said yesterday. "I'm just waiting."

Perlozzo has been forced to live in limbo much longer than he should have to. Like the rest of Baltimore, he's trying to make deductions based on tiny clues.

Should we assume that if Angelos knew he wanted Perlozzo, he would have been on the phone first thing Monday? Or are we to assume that the owner still wants Perlozzo but is tinkering with the front office before making a managerial announcement?

Even that doesn't make total sense. You don't choose your manager before you hire a general manager. It's not fair to the new general manager. So then, we're left to deduce that the new general manager is already on staff and is playing a key role in deciding Perlozzo's fate.

The safest guess is that Angelos knows what he's going to do and all of his key pieces are already in the Orioles' organization. Perlozzo was told that there are no managerial interviews planned. But that information came from Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, who may or may not be involved in selecting the next manager.

If Perlozzo isn't the top choice, then the Orioles are in real trouble because other organizations - teams that haven't had the luxury of two months to plan their opening move - are now moving very quickly.

It wouldn't be the first time that others teams scrambled while the O's stumbled, though.

All week, we've heard the same thing. "We're working on it," they kept saying. I'm not sure what exactly that means.

Are Flanagan and Beattie - who share the GM role for the next three weeks - sitting at facing desks, each juggling phone calls and signing important paperwork? Do they have names pinned to corkboard and folders spread out across the floor? Are they working into the wee hours, waiting for the janitor to poke his head in and say, "Boss, you should probably call it a night."

More than likely, "working on it," means that Angelos is thinking about it, causing unnecessary anxiety for some men who don't deserve to sweat anymore.

Meanwhile, everyone waits, staring at the old warehouse. Will there be smoke? Soon, you figure, but not before this lengthy, unnecessary deliberation.

rick.maese@baltsun.com

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