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July 12, 2011

More on Wieters: The extended-cut verison

On the site and in the paper this morning are two Orioles-related items worth checking out.

Jeff Zrebiec’s annual midseason grades are definitely worth a read. He puts a lot of time into those and tries to be as fair and honest as possible.

And I have a longer piece about Matt Wieters, the club’s lone All-Star and emerging leader.

Like many of these stories, you do a lot of research and you can only use so much in print. There is plenty that didn’t make it in story form. So, technically, these are leftovers, but I thought I’d pass them on.

One was a story that Wieters’ mom, a high school English teacher, told me that demonstrated his selflessness goes pretty far back. Apparently, an author visited his elementary school when he was in first grade. The man signed a bunch of his books, and Wieters’ mother bought several titles for Matt.

He kept one and gave the rest to friends who didn’t have any of the signed books. He didn’t think they should be left out, his mom said. Pretty heady stuff for an elementary schooler. His mom said that was typical of a kid who helped take care of his grandfather when he was sick and made sure to visit his grandmother every day this spring when she was in the hospital in Sarasota, Fla. (she fell ill while visiting Wieters).

Given how grounded Wieters seems, I asked Orioles manager Buck Showalter whether he was concerned that the All-Star bid at age 25 could go to Wieters’ head and change him.

“I don’t ever say never, but of anybody, it shouldn’t. I think it can only help him,” Showalter said. “Because I think it kind of verifies the return he is getting for what he is putting into it. This is a reward for what you put into it. You can say the same thing about Adam [Jones] and his efforts this year. But I think Matt it will only increase the confidence level of things he is doing and the work he is putting in to be good at his trade.”

Another thing I thought was interesting was that Wieters was only 5 feet 6 as a high school freshman. His sister, Rebecca, who was two years older and a collegiate volleyball player, is 6 feet 2, and his dad, Richard, is 6 feet 5.

There was a question as to whether Matt would be as tall as his dad, who was a minor league pitcher, but Matt didn’t care about that. He just wanted to be taller than his big sister (and at 6 feet 5, he is now. Though his dad may still be smidgen taller than Matt).

Also, I put a request into the Seattle Mariners' Justin Smoak, who went to high school with Wieters. This is what Smoak said: “I was very happy to learn that Matt was selected to the American League All-Star team. It is a very well-deserved honor to be chosen as one of the best. … We played together growing up, so I know how very hard he has worked to get to this point in his career. I look forward to watching him on Tuesday in the game.”

One last thing: I asked Wieters whether he thought making the All-Star Game gives him a little more credibility to be a leader in the clubhouse. I was impressed with his answer:

“I really feel that whether I made the All-Star Game doesn’t help me in the clubhouse as far as calling [a game] or dealing with a pitching staff. I don’t think the All-Star Game, just the honor, gives you that much more cred. I think the things that lead up to you making the All-Star Game gives you more credibility. Especially with the guys that you are with every day. Look at guys like Nicky [Markakis], who has never made an All-Star Game. He has the most cred in that locker room because you see what he does every day.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (10)
        

Comments

Well we had Cal, who was a great player for many reasons and the big hometown hero. And now we have Matt, who has all the makings of a hero for so many of the right reasons.

Baltimore needs this kid in many more ways that one. I hope fathers will point to and talk about Matt to their sons.

I was fortunate enough to be on the staff of Team Maryland when we played Florida in our first venture into the Sunbelt Classic - the only game we won was the televised game against Florida - of all the players that were on Florida's team ( he played third!) Matt was the first to come over after the game and congratulate the Maryland squad - he was then, and still is, a first class citizen/player

I can't make the Sun's comment engine work on print articles, even though I get a page claiming my account is verified, so I want to leave a comment about the media critic's article about the O's here.

It's tripe.

This guy is a professional media critic, but he doesn't examine why the O's coverage is the way it is (for example, replacing Jon Miller with Jim Hunter in the '90s, giving Peter A. the tone he wants.)

Nor does he consider whether more critical coverage would be more watchable.

Nor does he hold The Sun at all culpable. I have commented here several times that the Sun (not you, Jeff Z.) holds some responsibility for the Guerrero signing. And that's typical Sun coverage, much of it from that Schmuck -- "What big name will the O's sign? We need proven run producers."

If the Sun better understood baseball (again, not you, Jeff Z.), it could better cover baseball.

Unfortunately I now know the same is true of the Sun and television.

Matt Weiters is a class act. I went to a workman's special day game(11:00am) a couple years ago in Charlotte. Matt had caught the night before so he didn't play at all during that next days game. Instead of big-shotting it, he came out of the dug out at games end, stood by the stands and signed everything he was asked, took numerous pictures and chatted with everybody. he could have cared less about the fans but he didn't, he gave of his time and in my book, he will always be my favorite oriole because he showed class and grace with the fans when most of those guys would have went inside, showered and got on the bus, not caring about the people who came there to see him. Way to go Matt, a class act who is just getting near the tip of the iceburg in your game. And to think, a jerk like Bill Madden of the NY daily news called him a bust last year even though he is just now two years into his big league career.

We can hope that Weiters will get better as he gains experience. If he could figure out ML pitching, he could end up being an All-Star 7 or more times before his career ends. Maybe in the future he won't make the team simply because every team has to have at least one representative.
Having Adam Jones & Weiters serve as Orioles ' co-Captains would be good for the team, despite that fact that I believe that Dan may believe that Jones' All-Star selection may have gone to his head.

"the only thing that matters when you play a sport like this is winning." Derek Jeter

What do you think Peter Angelos says everyone? What don you think Andy Macphail says everyone?

Those two gentleman have been on a losing streak that just seems to go on forever. Andy last won while in minny back in the 80's, while the only thing Peter wins is in the court room.

I take that back. . . . . Both of those gentleman win in fooling the oriole fan base year after year after year after year after year.

Weiters is a class act, a gutsy player, and certainly part of the core of this team. But he (and a lot of other guys) don't belong on the 2011 All-Star teams.

The selection process is lousy. It's easy to stuff the ballot box. Having to supplement the ballot selections to make sure there's somebody from every team, regardless of on-field performance, makes the whole thing look and feel like a cross between reality TV and some kiddie league where self-esteem now trumps winning.

Let the All-Star team managers pick the squads (the way it was done in the early years), with first-half on-field performance as the prevailing selection factor.

Dan,
Being an allstar is great for Matt. But do you know if the O's are planning to get Jim Johnson into the rotation in the next year. I know they say it would leave a hole in the bullpen, but who cares if the starters are giving up 6 runs before he enters the game. He clearly is the best pitcher on our entire staff .
Also, Why have the O's refused to bring up Troy Patton?

Very good info!

Matt seems like a really good guy. He's made himself into an elite catcher with a really bad pitching staff. I truly believe his main focus is on calling a game because of how bad the staff is, so I am very curious to see how he would perform with the bat if he didn't have a 4A staff to work with.

Matt is a breath of fresh air and seems a decent person alright...but!

I would like to see him spend some of his own money this off season to relearn his approach at the plate from someone like Sam Horn. Sam could belt a homer every 11.3?-15.? at bats IRC and if Wieters could come close to that he'd be much more valuable to the team and be the seat filler he promised to be in first place.

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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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