The “Twister” needle is spinning so fast right now, no one has a clue where it will point when it stops. Will it point to Ozzie Guillen? Larry Beinfest? Dan Jennings? It’s probably a safe bet that it won’t point to either Jeffrey Loria or David Samson. Until those two make up their minds and make an announcement, everyone needs to take a deep breath, exhale gently, and repeat after me….”Speculation without substantiation is a waste of time. Speculation without…” Seriously, though. Numerous outlets were reporting that Larry Beinfest was told to pack his desk. Jeffrey Loria quashed the rumor with a dismissive “ridiculous” assertion. Does anyone remember the absolutely, positively 100% certain Brooklynite private in the squad bay during the opening scenes of The Longest Day? Wait for Ike to actually make the decision before you pass the word that the invasion is on, folks.
It’s time to take a look at the prospects and make some notes for March. We’ve started seeing some playing time for the new faces this September. Recent acquisitions Nathan Eovaldi, Jacob Turner, and Rob Brantly have been making appearances, and doing well. None of the three could buy a beer legally prior to the last presidential election, and Turner couldn’t even vote in it. Nevertheless, they have been performing well since arriving in Miami. Eovaldi threw 97+ MPH fastballs into his eighth inning of work, and Brantly has been settling into a consistent bat, giving John Buck plenty of time to contemplate his swing. Recent trades have fattened the Marlins’ farm system; we’ve got Christian Yelich, Jose Fernandez, and Andrew Heaney putting in their developmental time right now, and might see a callup or two next season.
I was talking with a pal of mine a couple of days ago, and the subject was Ozzie Guillen’s admonishment for his players to clam up and quit bitching about the outfield dimensions of Marlins Park. First of all, Ozzie is right, even if he’s wrong. He’s right to tell his guys to shut up. There is nothing I can think of that makes a losing team look worse than to have a losing team blame the venue for their failures. Underperformance can be worked on. Underperformance coupled with character weakness cannot. However, the dimensions of the new ballpark may be wrong, but it’s up to Beinfest to fix it, not construction contractors. Look at the roster at the start of the year: Stanton. Morrison. Ramirez. Buck. All deep-ball power hitters, and not suited to a deep-fenced outfield. Marlins Park is ideal for base hits, gapper doubles and foul-line triples, and that’s what our roster is missing. Mid-season, we acquired RBI machine Carlos Lee, and Justin Ruggiano has been doing well with the EBH problem. Keep Stanton (ask the scoreboard why) and get rid of Morrison and Buck. Stack the roster with guys that hit line-drive singles and doubles, and make sure the hitting coach helps them do it when there are runners in scoring position.
I had occasion the other night to catch the telecast of the last half of one of the Orioles’ recent extra-inning extravaganzas. The Birds were in Seattle, and I have a cousin there who has been a season ticket holder for many years. I caught a game at Safeco with him last September, and like this year, the Mariners were at the bottom, looking up. On a whim, I sent him a text message to see if he was at the game. He was, and with both of the other spectators still bothering to go to games (hyperbole alert: actual attendance was 14,001). We spent the remainder of the game passing text messages back and forth. It was pleasant and entertaining, as he is a knowledgeable fan. The Orioles kept their extra-inning streak alive, and their season has me reflecting on the nature of being a fan. I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I am one of the unlucky ones. You see them in places like the South side of Chicago, and in Boston and Cleveland. I spent many years in the DC metro area, and had some good years there with a couple of championship Redskins teams, and one or two great Orioles years. The sale of the Redskins to Dan Snyder put an end to my personal Redskins heyday, as did the glorious wind-down of Cal Ripken, Jr.’s career did for my O’s. The Nationals blew into town, and the headlines today will tell you how that went for me. Since I relocated to Florida, the ‘Skins have Shanahan and RGIII, and both big-league clubs are headed for October. Ahh, fate! I am, however, fortunate to have an opportunity to teach my son the importance of loyalty and perseverance. I use the selection of the Marlins as “our” team to demonstrate how to be loyal through the bad times. Now, if I can just show him how it feels to be rewarded for that loyalty…Maybe next year!