Orioles, Fans On Macphailcare: Let The Meeting Begin

August 12, 2009|By Peter Schmuck

Clearly, what the Orioles need to do is hold one of those town hall meetings that are all the rage right now.

President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail should open the stadium on Thursday's day off and set up a lectern on top of the home dugout and let Orioles fans let loose with their comments, questions and complaints. In another discouraging second-half slump, I'm sure there are a lot of fans who would jump at the opportunity to vent their frustration at the progress of the club's latest rebuilding plan.

There would be a guy in the crowd with a "Got Pedro?" sign, and a couple of fans with a makeshift banner pleading with owner Peter Angelos to "Sell the team to Cal." There would be hecklers, of course, but they wouldn't be able to get too close because all the good field-level seats would be taken up by Red Sox fans.

The questions and answers would be so predictable that we really don't even have to wait until Thursday. Through the miracle of visualization, we can get the thing started in the theater of your minds.

The first guy in line at the microphone is wearing a Nick Markakis Tuesday T-shirt and he doesn't look happy.

Frustrated fan: : "When you came here two years ago, you promised to upgrade the player development system and build the foundation for long-term success. So, what's the deal? Isn't it about time we start seeing some results?"

MacPhail: : "Well, I think you can make the case that you are seeing some results. In addition to the young players we got in the Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada deals, we've developed and promoted some of the top prospects in all of baseball. That might not be reflected in the won-lost column, but I think anybody can see that."

The next guy in line is wearing a homemade T-shirt with the word "Patience" on the chest and back. He starts to compliment MacPhail on the success of some of the young players, but is quickly shouted down by the angry crowd. The guy with the Pedro sign commandeers the microphone.

Angry fan: : "Why don't you admit that you stuck us with Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson because Peter Angelos is too cheap to spend any money on this team and doesn't care if we win as long as he keeps getting all that MASN money? We could have had Pedro Martinez."

MacPhail: : "Yes, we could have had Pedro Martinez last spring for about $9 million if you count the incentives, but that's not the direction we wanted to go. We were brutally honest about the fact that we were buying stopgap pitchers to hold space for the young pitchers in our system. You're starting to see those guys now and I think it's pretty exciting."

Disbelieving fan: : "Exciting? Everybody said Chris Tillman was going to be a great prospect. He's been up here almost two weeks and he hasn't won a game yet. The guy's a bust. And did you see Matt Wieters pop up with those guys in scoring position the other day?"

The angry mob breaks into a rhythmic chant. "Twelve straight losing seasons ... Twelve straight losing seasons ..."

MacPhail: : "People, you've got to give these young players time. Matt Wieters has been in professional baseball for two years.

"Brian Matusz was in college 15 months ago. We've upgraded the minor league system. We've fixed the spring training situation. We've taken some big steps in international scouting. We're headed in the right direction, but it's still going to take time to get where this organization wants to go."

Cynical fan: : "Give us a break. This team has the worst record at this point in the season in 20 years. We're not going forward. We're going backward. At this rate, it's going to take 12 more years."

MacPhail: : "If you go back to doing things the way you used to, it'll take longer than that. There's only one way out of this mess and you're going to have to endure a little more short-term pain if you ever want to compete in the American League East. Hopefully, you'll start seeing some positive movement over the next few weeks and we'll be able to fill some key holes during the upcoming offseason. And, just maybe, some of these young players will pop and we'll be significantly more competitive in 2010."

Hopeless fan: : "We'll never be able to compete with the Yankees and the Red Sox. Can't we just get Major League Baseball to realign the divisions and put us somewhere we don't have to have a $200 million payroll to be competitive?"

MacPhail: : "Maybe when I'm commissioner."

Listen to Peter Schmuck weeknights at 6 on WBAL (1090 AM) and check out "The Schmuck Stops Here" at baltimoresun.com/ schmuckblog.

Speaking of which ...

All kidding aside, the Orioles have scheduled a "State of the Orioles" event for all full-season ticket and Plan A holders Saturday afternoon at Camden Yards. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. for an autograph session with Orioles players, then president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and manager Dave Trembley will hold a question and answer session from 5 to 5:30 p.m.

- Peter Schmuck

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