Former Orioles president Andy MacPhail is happy for team, 'sad I'm not part of the special season'

October 04, 2012|Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

Before former club president Andy MacPhail discusses how he personally feels about the Orioles' playoff run this season, a year after he stepped down from his post, he rattles off a checklist.

"First and foremost," he said, "there are just a lot of people I am happy for."

There are the Orioles players, many of whom he brought into the organization. There's manager Buck Showalter, whom MacPhail hired in July 2010. There's owner Peter Angelos, who tried to convince MacPhail to stay last fall. There are those who currently work behind the scenes in the organization, his former foot soldiers. And one other group that must be mentioned, MacPhail said.

"I'm happy for the fans. It's been a generation since they really experienced the thrills of a pennant chase in September and October. It is great to see people wearing the black and orange around town again," said MacPhail, who continues to live in the Baltimore area. "So that's my principal emotion. There are a lot of people there that deserve good things to happen to them."

Then, only after his list is completed, will MacPhail address his own feelings toward the timing of this playoff appearance after 14 consecutive losing seasons, including four-plus with MacPhail at the helm.

"For me personally, there's part of me that's sad I'm not part of the special season that they are having now. It would have been a lot of fun," said MacPhail, who took over the club in June 2007 and left last October. "But also I think, I don't know if it is satisfaction or relief, but at least you know the four years you spent there weren't an entire waste of everybody's time and energy. And that you really worked to put something together that did pay off from where you were."

Although Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette understandably have received most of the credit for the Orioles' surprising 2012, several of MacPhail's moves built the foundation for this current club.

"Andy MacPhail's fingerprints are all over this team," Showalter has said on more than one occasion.

During his Orioles tenure, MacPhail traded for center fielder Adam Jones, shortstop J.J. Hardy, first baseman Mark Reynolds, second baseman Robert Andino and pitchers Chris Tillman, Steve Johnson, Pedro Strop, Troy Patton and Tommy Hunter, among others.

He also was in charge when the organization drafted third baseman Manny Machado and pitchers Dylan Bundy and Brian Matusz and signed Matt Wieters (who was drafted weeks before MacPhail arrived).

And he was the one who brokered the deal to hire Showalter, flying to Dallas for a clandestine meeting in July 2010.

"I'm happy for Buck, because I think he really has found a home here. I think he has made himself synonymous with this franchise," MacPhail said. "He is, in a lot of respects, the face of the franchise, which is a very positive thing."

"When you help bring somebody over, you feel responsible for them, you want them to succeed and be happy here so that you didn't sell them a bill of goods when they came over," MacPhail added. "There were going to be 11 openings that year, managerial openings, and it's hard to believe he wasn't going to get one somewhere. And if there's one smart thing Peter and I did it was that we were smart enough to get first in line."

MacPhail's contract expired at the end of last season. He had planned to step down, but Angelos talked to him about staying, and the discussions lasted about a week. Eventually, MacPhail decided the pull to leave — and specifically the call to spend more time with his elderly father, baseball Hall of Fame executive Lee MacPhail — was too strong.

It's not a decision he regrets. He said he has visited his father in Florida roughly 10 times in the last year — far more than he ever could while running a baseball team.

"I don't think you ever do the wrong thing by doing the right thing. It was time," said MacPhail, who oversaw four last-place teams and posted an overall winning percentage of .415 in his years with the O's. "It was the right thing for me to do. And I'd rather have it be this way [with the Orioles winning], than them mired in another 70-win season."

MacPhail, 59, has spent much of the year traveling with his wife, Lark, and "crossing things off our bucket list."

That includes trips to Nantucket, Mass., and Quebec City, where he wasn't able to visit in previous summers. He also traveled to several countries and was most impressed with Istanbul, Turkey.

Now, MacPhail admits, he is getting the itch to seek gainful employment, though he has no specific plans at this point. It would be surprising if he returned to a general manager type position in which he again had to run the daily baseball operations of a club, but he'll likely be involved in the sport in some capacity.

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