As fans strolled into Camden Yards on Friday night, many were supportive of the Orioles' decision to retain manager Dave Trembley, who now has just 170 wins in 2 1/2 seasons and must win one of two remaining games to avoid a 100-loss season.
"That's awesome!" said Charlie Bryant, 43, of Baltimore, when he heard Trembley would return in 2010. "It's good," said Ayo Obayan, 46, an engineering consultant who came to Baltimore 25 years ago from Nigeria and has been an Orioles fan ever since. "Give him a chance. He's got new, young ballplayers. Now give him some good players and pitchers to go with them and let's see what he can do next year. I don't know why people blame the manager."
The majority of those interviewed felt Trembley "deserved a chance" to see through what he started. Anthony Stinnett, 24, of Pasadena, pointed to the injuries to Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergesen, and the trades of George Sherrill and Aubrey Huff. Many others pointed to the lack of pitching. All agreed the manager wasn't responsible for those circumstances.
Even Pat Stroop, 61, a retired Navy man who believes in accountability, said he couldn't blame the manager.
"I've been really hard on Trembley, but I love the way he respects the game," Stroop said. "He's a great baseball man, and I'd really like to have a beer with him and talk about the game. I did expect them to make a run after the All-Star break and I'm disappointed in the results, but I support him. I just wish he could somehow magically impart his respect and knowledge to the players."
"The bottom line," said Ray Rubilotta, 42, of Crofton, "is I think it's great he's coming back. He's not the problem. The problem is the players and not having a bullpen."
Usually, managers take the hit when their teams don't perform up to expectations, and in the past, Orioles managers have taken a lot of hits. The Orioles have had seven managers depart during the time Peter Angelos has owned the team. Trembley, who is 170-244 since taking over with 93 games to play in 2007, would have been No. 8.
Some fans took that as a positive sign.
"My opinion is, you shouldn't be handed a Triple-A team to manage in the majors," said Gene Rowan, 49, of Catonsville. "The fact he has been rehired, it's finally a sign of stability. That's something we haven't had in 13 years."
Added Rubilotta, "I think Angelos realizes [president of baseball operations Andy] MacPhail is a real baseball general manager and he has trust in him, like the Ravens have in Ozzie Newsome."
And Joe and Linda Bench of Chesapeake City agreed they have faith in MacPhail.
"I think he has the right idea," said Joe Bench. "It's just going to take awhile to improve when coming up through the farm."
Still, everyone was not totally enamored of MacPhail's decision to rehire Trembley. Mary Haynes, 51, and an Orioles fan for 25 years, noted the team needs just two more losses to reach 100 this season.
"I think it's time for him [Trembley] to retire," she said. "He's been all right, but they need fresh eyes and ears. I was surprised they kept him, [given] his record over the last two seasons. It's been a little miserable."
Ryan Dieter, 12, and a student at Patterson Mill, said bluntly: "He's not very good. I'd have fired him and found someone else who's better."
And Kris Eddy, a machinist from Forest Hill, also had issues with the Trembley news. He said only half-jokingly, "Maybe we'll get 100 wins next year, if they allow us to count consecutive seasons."
Eddy pointed to the lack of good fundamentals on the team and said that since Trembley came up from the minor leagues: "You would think he would be good at teaching fundamentals. I would have liked someone else. I'm OK with it, but all in all, he needs to get his stuff together."
And perhaps the most insightful criticism came from Baltimore city police officer Mark Buckette, a native who has been watching the Orioles since before they moved from 33rd Street.
"I'm here early and I see warm-ups," Buckette said. "They look lazy and sloppy."
Buckette said he has "no problem" with Trembley because "he can't play for them. If the players don't hold up their end of the deal, what are you going to do?"
But it is the manager who is supposed to instill the fundamentals and set the tone that leads to victory. As Mary Stroop, a Howard County native and retired pre-school teacher said in assessing Trembley's team: "They don't seem to have a fire under them. If I had done my job the way they're doing theirs,' I wouldn't have been employed for long."