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November 23, 2010

Willie Randolph: I'm an Oriole now

New Orioles bench coach Willie Randolph gets it.

He played for six teams in an 18-season career, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and ending with the New York Mets.

He managed the Mets for four seasons. And he most recently was with the Milwaukee Brewers, spending two years there as a bench coach.

Yet in these parts, he’ll always be primarily associated with the enemy. Randolph is a Yankee first in Baltimore’s collective memory. He was a key cog in those great late-1970s/early-1980s teams that were always battling with the Orioles for supremacy.

Randolph was a spark plug, a fast, shifty, no-nonsense second baseman that seemed to always be on base in the mind’s eye of the Orioles fan. The stats back that up. Randolph played in 160 career games against the Orioles -- practically a full season -- and hit .272 with a .391 on-base percentage and 93 runs in those AL East contests.

Randolph understands perceptions don’t die easily. But he promises his new fan base that he’s not a Yankee now. Or a Met. Or even a Brewer.

“I appreciated my time in New York. I am a New Yorker ... but that’s not what defines me as a person,” said Randolph, who lives in New Jersey. “I have tremendous respect for [the Orioles]. I remember back in the day you couldn’t get a ticket there. It was one of the most exciting places for me, and I hope to be a part of rekindling that excitement. When I put on that uniform, I will be part of them. And [the fans] can be assured of that.”

He was asked how he thought the fans would react to him the first time he is announced at Camden Yards in black and orange and not pinstripes.

And this is what he said: “I don’t know how I will be received, but hopefully warmly. I love Baltimore. My family loves Baltimore. ... And they played a big part in my decision. I love the city of Baltimore. We’ve gone there for years, and we’ll really enjoy it. That’s a given.”

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Posted by Dan Connolly at 10:49 PM | | Comments (17)
        

Comments

Classy...Welcome Willie

Who cares where he is from? Why would people rooting for a ( until proven otherwise next year) deadbeat team care where their coaching staff comes from? Is this the type of backstory drama that drives interest in our team? Are we that starved for attention?

You've gotta like hearing that.

Good baseball man!! The Orioles will benefit from his baseball knowledge!!

Is it really over? No more coaching staff news? Nothing about coaches going to arbitration? Nothing about a coach being traded for a fungo bat to be named later? No more about the possibility of bringing every ex-Oriole (living or dead) back to round out the coaching staff? I'll believe it when I see it. Actually, I;ll believe it when I don't see it. Play ball!

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The Orioles will hold a media teleconference with the coaches and Buck Showalter today. Afterward, the Baltimore media will gather and put out our candles, a symbolic gesture ending the two-month vigil.

Heh .. the O's need the best minds and baseball people in and around management. They have good people, they're trying to get good (or better) players .. give them a break. This year should be a defining year. Chill !!

I am so excited to have this All-Star coaching staff to teach these guys how to play real major league baseball. The kind that I remember watching in our living room with my 9 brothers and sisters rooting for the Orioles. 2011 is going to be a wonderful and exciting year for both the Orioles and us fans. Our credibility as a winning team is going to finally be restored with Buck at the helm and 2 former managers to back him up & give him sound advice. How cool is that ! Those guys who are too embarrssed to sign with the Orioles are really going to be ruefully regretful next year. And our young guys will finally blossom. Way to go Buck for establishing a Class 'A' coaching staff. Now the players will start taking responsibility for their lackluster attitude & to be proud to wear an Oriole uniform, especially Mr. Jones. Go O's !!!!!!!

Now that Buck has Willie on board, is there any chance the O's make a proposal to Derek Jeter?

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can't see it

Funny stuff, Dan! Be sure to light a candle for me.

A totally unrelated question (you should have a section for unrelated questions) : If a team declines a player option, does that player not become a free agent? I'm referring to Jose Lopez, specifically, who had his option declined yet remains on Seattle's 40-man roster.

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Don't know Lopez's specific situation but, generally, yes. Declining an option let's a player be a free agent.


...............................................................................................
He does become a free agent though I'd have to check why he's sitll on the 40-man roster.

This is the type of leadership - Buck and all his coaches - that we have needed for years.

Here, Here!!

Great choice!

Willie Randolph is a classy guy and an excellent baseball man. Welcome to Baltimore, Willie.

Dan--Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


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Much appreciated barry. You too.

Feels very weird having him in black & orange. He's been one of the enemies for so long. Yet we need him, and he & Buck could help us recruit actual players, who might otherwise laugh at the idea of playing in Baltimore.

Glad to see that Showalter is not afraid to have diversity on his staff. It is especially satisfying that Willie Randolph is the bench coach. If I remember correctly, he was a candidate for Orioles coach at one one point. Welcome Willie.

The Mariners declined Lopez's option, but he still doesn't have enough service time to be a free agent.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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