Merry Tex-mas: Failing in bid is true gift for O's

December 25, 2008|By David Steele

Before you let Mark Teixeira's departure to the Yankees completely ruin your Christmas, Hanukkah and/or Kwanzaa (and before you invoke "evil," "hate" or "damn" once too often during this holy season), try to keep Andy MacPhail's words in mind.

"We sort of broke the rules trying to go after him," the Orioles' president told The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec after the deal went down.

"Broke the rules." Remind yourself that they are good rules, in place for a reason, and that the Orioles are better off for not having broken them completely. And beg MacPhail to not even be tempted to break them anytime soon.

The Yankees got Teixeira because that's how the Yankees compete. For these Orioles to try to compete the same way is, and was, stupid. To compete the way MacPhail has always intended is the right way for them.

Come on, you weren't really deluded about what Teixeira's signing would really do for the Orioles, were you? One big signing gets the Yankees back into the World Series conversation, and you thought the same would get the Orioles into the same conversation? Really?

Or were you numbed by the address?

Had Teixeira grown up in Los Angeles or Houston or Hattiesburg or San Pedro de Macoris, would you feel so betrayed today? A local star in orange and black (with "Baltimore" across the road jersey, of course, since that meant so much), awash in cash and chewing up so much payroll for most of the next decade while batting just four times a game, that would have reversed the 11 years of misery?

You would think that the whole Miguel Tejada experience was 50 years ago, instead of a year ago this month. Remember, Tejada had done more at that point in his career than Teixeira has so far in his. He was tied to fewer years and less money. He was genuinely excited to come.

See how well that turned out.

Yet here we all were waiting to drop that same load of responsibility for the resuscitation of the Orioles, times two, on Teixeira's head. For him to come under those circumstances - how could he possibly have lived up to it? It was an unhappy ending for all waiting to happen.

There's a reason the front office that devised the Tejada plan is out, and MacPhail is in, with a plan that's kind of, you know, the complete opposite. It's the only plan that can work if you're not the Yankees or the Boston Red Sox or a handful of others. The new plan includes Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and all those arms in the system. (Yeah, you're saying, like Bedard, Loewen and Cabrera. Pessimism noted.)

A Teixeira - at eight years and some $180 million - becomes a factor once other pieces are in place, when he can be an instant return on the investment. Otherwise, you get great statistics, a mild attendance bump and, eventually, anger and frustration at year after year of meaningless games.

Of course, when you fall into the trap of making the offseason a season of its own, things like this Teixeira backlash happen. The Yankees always win the offseason pennant but haven't exactly dominated that other pennant this decade.

The Orioles, meanwhile, can now spend that $140 million on all the other holes in the franchise, so that one day, they will look as good to the next Teixeira as the Yankees did to the current one.

Until then, just say "no" to the Orioles breaking their rules. And say "yes" to what Teixeira's decision truly is: a gift. Merry Christmas, Orioles fans.

Listen to David Steele on Fridays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).

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