Kevin Cowherd: Parting ways makes most sense for both MacPhail, Orioles

October 05, 2011|Kevin Cowherd

I spent Wednesday on the roof of a downtown building sipping rotgut coffee and staring through powerful binoculars at the Warehouse, looking for puffs of smoke that signaled another regime change for the Orioles.

By 2 in the afternoon, though, a horrible thought seized me: Maybe there was no one in the Warehouse. Maybe the Orioles had pulled a Bob Irsay with the Mayflower vans and didn't tell us. Or maybe the place was evacuated because of, I don't know, an asbestos scare or something.

So I hustled down there as fast as a fat guy with a knee replacement can hustle.

But, no, the lights were on. There were cars out front. People were going in and out. There was activity taking place, although it might have been nothing more than a spirited game of wastebasket hoops, judging by how long it's taking to name the new boss.

Yes, here we are, eight days after another dreary Orioles season came to a close, and there's still no word on whether Andy MacPhail will step down as president of baseball operations when his contract expires Oct. 31.

As usual, the Orioles have clammed up about when we can expect a decision, too. People talk about how secretive the Kremlin was in the old Soviet Union. But I'll tell you, the Orioles could have taught the Kremlin a few tricks.

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when my phone call to the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos wasn't returned, as usual. And MacPhail didn't return a call to his cell, either.

All in all, the silence was just another slap to Orioles fans looking for the answer to one simple question: Who's going to run the show after 14 straight losing seasons?

No matter what the Orioles decide, I'm on record as saying their best move would be to let MacPhail go.

I don't care how exciting that last series against the Boston Red Sox was, either. Or how electric Camden Yards was that last night when the Orioles came back for a heart-pounding 4-3 win to knock Boston out of the playoffs.

Doesn't matter. The Orioles took a major step backward in 2011. Key free agents underperformed. The young pitching staff imploded like I've never seen in all my years of watching baseball. Somebody has to be held accountable. This team needs to go in a new direction — again.

Moving on from the Orioles would probably be best for MacPhail, too. He's a decent guy who poured his heart and soul into turning the Orioles around since he arrived here four years ago. But if he stays at it much longer with the same results, he'll end up banging his head against a wall every day.

On the other hand, the longer the Orioles go without making an announcement, the more the speculation grows that maybe MacPhail plans to stick around. Which I don't get at all.

For months, we've been hearing that he has had his bags packed, just waiting for the day he could burn rubber out of town.

And now he might be staying?

Why?

Who knows?

The only thing that makes any sense is that Angelos is begging him to stay. And Angelos didn't build his law empire by being unpersuasive. He's the kind of guy who could talk Charles Manson into staying in the slammer next time he's up for parole.

Maybe Angelos feels that Buck Showalter isn't ready to take over as president/general manager. Or maybe the owner just wants Showalter to remain as manager and isn't comfortable with anyone on the list of candidates to replace MacPhail.

God knows Angelos doesn't care what I think of the whole situation. But if I owned the team, I'd keep Showalter right where he is.

The man has a track record of turning around three sad-sack franchises: the New York Yankees (1992-1995), the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000) and the Texas Rangers (2003-2006.) And in his first full season with the sad-sack Orioles, in one of the most trying years a manager could have, Showalter never whined, never blinked, never fell apart.

He never publicly ripped his players, either, which earned him enormous respect in a clubhouse that often felt as tense as the Gaza Strip.

Of course, you'd think the Orioles would have had all this worked out by now. They've known for months that MacPhail wanted to leave. They've had months to decide whether Showalter is GM material or whether he should stay in uniform as the team's only true superstar.

Instead, they drag out the process forever.

Some things never change.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show."

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