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August 11, 2009

Town Hall takeoff...and the real thing

In my column for tomorrow's print edition -- which you can read here right now -- I was inspired by the news reports of Senator Ben Cardin's noisy town hall meeting to speculate on what it might be like if the Orioles held the same kind of event for their disenchanted fans.

Don't worry. There are no health care reform politics included from either side of the aisle. I just got to thinking how it might go if the Orioles had to answer to their fans in the same format...and at the same level of intensity.

The real deal: Turns out, however, that I didn't really have to wonder about it, because the Orioles -- coincidentally -- are holding a "State of the Orioles" event for full-season and Plan A ticket holders on Saturday before the game against the Los Angeles Angels. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. for an autograph session with Orioles players and then president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and manager Dave Trembley will take questions from 5:00-5:30 p.m.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 3:20 PM | | Comments (54)
Categories: Just baseball


Trying to hold on to the last few seasons ticket holders are they? Will they resort to begging? Will they allow the Red Sox and Yankees fans who regularly buy those season ticket holder tickets to attend? After all, they are the biggest financial supporters of the team. :)

Great piece of work Pete, as usual. I was very amused by it. Somehow I have the feeling your personalities were taken off these posts. I saw a piece of myself in any of the following in no particular order:

frustrated fan, angry fan, disbelieving fan, and cynical fan.

I wish you had described the "delusional fan" as well. Made me laugh. Keep up the good work!

Hey Peter,

What do ya mean no health care...there's a bunch of us out here who are pretty sick and tired...

I hope that you will be covering said event. Too bad it isn't open to the public.

I could have a lot of fun with this, but I'm sure the usual suspects will show up on this thread and take care of it.

As a 25 year Corporate Season ticket holder, I am willing to give the Orioles the benefit of the doubt as long as the rebuilding effort is coupled with a plan to make the team competitive in 2010.

As I write this I have a desk drawer of unused tickets from this year that I was unable to give away to clients or my own employees.

That is the State of the Franchise.

LOL - great piece Pete. I just got a chance to read it. You have your Andy impersonation down pat. Now, can you work on the Trembley post-mortum, uh, post-game Q & A session stock answers now? LOL

Dear Mr. Schmuck,
The majority of Orioles fans are not clamoring for Pedro! The casual fan without slightest baseball insight might be impressed with a Pedro Martinez signing but the die hard fan wants fundamentally sound baseball. We want proper execution of base running. We want hustle. We want a public apology for subjecting us to Henderickson, Eaton and Simon. We want Mora to play less and accept that age has caught up with him and that he should let someone else suck at 3rd base. We want a discount on beer because that is the only way we can endure 9 innings of Oriole baseball. We also want to give credit where credit is due. Thank you for Bergy, Tillman, Matusz, Weiters, Riemold, Jones and the rest of the birds that try.

Anarchy.... Chaos!

Hi Pete

"All kidding aside, the Orioles have scheduled a "State of the Orioles" event for all full-season ticket and Plan A holders Saturday afternoon at Camden Yards. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. for an autograph session with Orioles players, then president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and manager Dave Trembley will hold a question and answer session from 5 to 5:30 p.m"

How many other franchises in baseball have done something like this? Why? Because of the very people that they are inviting have had it? Pedro is making his 2k9 debut tomorrow I believe, but that is not who I was hoping they would pick up, I was hoping they would open the check book to Lowe, but Pedro would have been huge compared to Hendrickson or Eaton.

sorry Pete- the last was from me.

I also have to say that even though I am thrilled that the club is making changes. However it would have been better to sign a solid ace at the beginning of the year. Who could predict that Huff and Mora would be performing in this way.

Please tell me you are covering this. Too bad it won't be open to the public.

You know it was bad enough we have Pete and Roch making excuses for the orioles on a daily basis, we now have Tom Davis and Dave johnson chimming in. Last night on the post game report all they were talking about is the orioles can't catch any breaks and everything they hit is right at somebody. Well i don't know about the rest of you fans but i am absolutley sick and tired of all this.There has to be a edict put out between the sunpapers and Masn that anybody associated with the orioles in any capacity aren't allowed to be negative because the support they get is insane.

the orioles need to be
patient with their pitching..

pitching is what will make
them a better team into the

the orioles of the old days
had good but not great hitting,
role players and good defense..

the pitching of palmer, cuellar, mcnally and dobson
is what kept them on top during
the mid 60's early 70's////

Wow that column was the perfect microcosm of this blog and the majority of folks who post. I certainly hope Andy never lets anything the fans say or want done affect his decision making, as I'm sure it doesn't. The best way to sink a franchise is to start running it like a fan might, exhibit A: the Redskins.

What do Orioles fans and medical practices have in common?

They both require patients!

My doctor warned me against following the Orioles, citing its detrimental health effects.

If the Orioles current state of poor health continues, some fans may choose the Nationals health care option!

I'd ask what the plan is for getting the guys to be more patient at the plate (and stop swinging at pitcher's pitches early in the count) in 2010.

Great article! Hmm, a "State Of The Orioles" event, I think we all deserve to be able to attend that. Not to cause chaos, but to hear the plan and the thoughts from the people who are in charge.

The first question should be: What happened to the promise that the team would play hard-nosed fundamental baseball that the fans could be proud of? I remember something about not having to question effort while they improved the talent level. Do we have a transcript somewhere? Instead I think they will trot out all the young players to soften up the crowd.

Spot on, Cameron!

I can't imagine too many O's fans going for the Nationals plan, but I also have to note that the club is six games over the Nats going into tonight's game. How many O's fans would be confident betting the farm on our lads having a better record than than Washington by the end of this sorry season? A month ago, I never thought I'd ask that question.

What does it take to get these players heads in the game? Brian Roberts loses track of the outs and takes off on a pop up? I know rookies make mistakes but BRob is hardly a rookie, plus he's in scoring position already? You can't blame Trembley for that bonehead move.

They wouldn't dare have Angelos at this would they? Then it would resemble the Health Care meetings. Except you wouldn't have to sponsor the rabble-rousers.

Must be the middle of August....the O's are 20 games under 500!!!!!
I have been a loyal O's fan for 60 years. I have seen 'em win and lose. I have had the good fortune of being at several world series to watch them. It has been a wonderful ride filled with many lifelong memories of great teams, terrific players, riding my bike to Memorial Stadium, watching the rise of Cal Ripken through the farm system and then becoming a star, 4 20 game winners in one year, watching my dad catch a foul ball off the bat of Brooks, just way too many wonderful memories listening to the Birds on my transistor radio hidden under my pillow as i fell asleep. Its had to believe that there is an entire generation of kids that have never experienced the Orioles as a winning team and a class franchise. We use to be like the Yankees, and the Dodgers, and the Lakers and Celtics. We were one of the premiere franchises in all of sports. But times change.....and all of a sudden the entire country is upside down. The Cubs are fighting for a pennant, the once mighty Pittsburgh Pirates are bottom feeders, Tampa Bay went to a world series......the Florida Marlins won a world series....the Colts even left one night.
Patience truly is a virtue, and if one wants to continue to be an Oriole's fan one better have the patience of a saint. Sooner or later things will get better, but only if we stay the course.....youth is our addiction and we need to mix in a little experience and leadership to teach these kids how to win.
EVERYBODY should be pissed off......the fans, the management, but most of all the players. Losing is no fun. The team needs a lot of fixing, but one thing they can do as a group is to start their season tomorrow and play to win the rest of their games.
Somebody step up....take charge....get in other players faces.....grow some balls and man up. Please .....somebody take charge. This team needs leadership. You can say what you want to about Ozzie Guillen, but i would want him on my team anytime. Fire, passion, desire, and a kick butt attitude.
I will take passion over bland anytime.

You forgot the part when the crazy woman stands up and yells about wanting to see Peter Angelos' birth certificate. "I WANT MY TEAM BACK!!!!"


Good point about Mr. Angelos Sucky Network. They made me throw up with the "O's can't catch a break" comments. I agree with you and I would take it a step further. Baltimore needs a New York'esque type press that relentlessly piles it up on the O's when they fail as they have. The press they get is way to positive for as awful as they are. It's like Peter Angelos is Kim Jung il and nobody dares to say/write anything that deviates the communist party propaganda.

Pete's reply: First off, I think you greatly exaggerate the negativity of the New York media, but -- that said -- I'm tired of being compared to the NY tabloids, which have to one-up each other every day, and have completely different verification standards for publishing information. What exactly would it accomplish if I, for instance, started writing every day that the team is hopeless and everybody needs to be fired AGAIN and the sky is falling and fans should boycott the team? I know if would make you happy for awhile until you got bored with it, but we all know what's going on and we write every day why the team is losing. It's almost like you want a pound of flesh and you don't care what really happens as long as you get it. What's your motivation here? I've been writing about this team for 20 years. I've written every negative angle over that period of time, but I'm not going to write it every day. It's just tired.

2k9? C'mon.
Is typing 2009 so difficult?

Either that or I gotta get going with the Bloggers Shorthand, neatly covered in half of chapter 5 in the Bloggers Handbook.

I did ask for a way to italicize the sarcasm.
No go I guess.

Some readers keep wishing for a 'big bat' in the off-season. Yeah, bats are nice, but the O's are about in the middle of the league in most of the hitting stats (5th in BA, 11th in slugging, etc.). It's our pitching that really stinks. Why are so many fans optimistic that the young pitchers will come through in a year or two, and at the same time ready to give up on the young hitters. So far, Pie (8 hits and 2 walks in his past 10 games) has done at least as much as Tillman, Berken, or Matusz, and Wieters (.323 in July) has done way more. I don't think it's time to panic over the future, but if it is, it's time to panic over the pitchers.

Kevin In Iraq- The people in charge won't be there. The Orioles owner and Executive Vice President will not attend.

The questions of your hypothetical fans show they are far more informed about baseball than political fans are about health care. Were the parallel to be accurate some of the questions would be as follows: 1. Why is Cal benched? We need him in the lineup everyday. 2. Why doesn't MacPhail trade Mora to the Angels for Vladimir Guerrero? 3. Since Chris Tillman is a lousy pitcher, can he learn how to cheat with a spitter like the great Jim Bunning.

Fire Trembley

Pete -
In the past few years I have probably used less than half of my 13-game plan E tickets. Just too depressing. But I've come down to B'more much more often this year and I'll be there both Sat and Sun this weekend. These young players are already fun to watch even though they're only occasionally successful.
Meanwhile, what would our record be if you take out games against the Yanks, Bosox and A's ? Over .500 by my calculation. That's promising to me.
If I get the chance on Sat I'm going to suggest to Andy that us season ticket folks get a chance to buy Yanks and Bosox tix at a reduced rate ...just to keep them in "friendly" hands. What a difference in the ballpark atmosphere on Opening Day 2009 than during the rest of our Yankee home games. Why ? Because the Yankee fans could not get tickets and our team felt supported. It's just not right that our guys have to play 18 away games against 2 of the top AL teams every year and we should stop letting it happen. What PA gives up in revenue for those games will generate some sales in the "empty stadium" games just because our guys will perform better. Simple right ?
Well, maybe. At least it'll be something the fans can do instead of us griping all the time.

You're getting my vote for post of the night.

In one pathetic rambeling you've managed to imply that the litmus test for the Orioles should go from being winners, to being .500, and now .500 if you subtract the Yankee and Red Sox games out of the equation.

While also blaming lack of fan support at home games for the poor play, suggesting that people should spend their hard earned money for an expierence that you, yourself, describe as "depressing".

Well done sir.

So, if you were going to go after the Big Pitcher who would it be? And the one big bat?

CJ in Manhattan -
Isn't that what Obama is doing at his healthcare rallies? Handing out tickets to supporters only?

Other teams have done this, but typically the owner or team president is a participant. In Boston, Larry Lucchino is on a segment on the local radio station every week. Even John Henry is on NESN occasionally.

The only problem with your article is that the roles are reversed... If AM was to fit in to the current debate, he would have to make up "facts" and the angry mob would actually raise sensible concerns (unlike your irate bloggers)

AM- have no fear, the Orioles are going to be great. You will never was money on tickets again, since everything is going to be peachy very soon! That is a fact!
MOB- You keep saying that, but isn't it goign to just melt into another mess, requiring more rebuilding later?

AM- Really, if you consider it though, 18 years of the Yankee regime and Steinbrenner are to blame, not me! I did not create this mess!
MOB- Its your problem now, take responsibility!

AM- Competition vs. a competitor with unlimited resources, such as the Yankees or even the federal gov't, is not a bad thing. It will actually make things more competitive!
MOB- Aren't you taught that isn't true on the second day of Microeconomics class?

AM- Once these changes are made, the Orioles will never again post a losing record.
MOB- how will we pay for it?
AM- Uh, well, it is going to be salary neutral. We will sign every top notch Free Agent available to give you the best product on field... that and we will surtax the rich Yankees and Red Sox.
MOB- What happens when they give up and decide to become mediocre? Then who pays?
AM- uhh... well... that's enough "facts" for today! Report to my office if you hear anyone speaking otherwise, we have a way with dealing with them... Gotta Run, bye!!!!

Pete -
You must have some job responding to people like djph and grebB. Take a look at the back of your tix guys: the seller makes no promise that the team you pay to see is going to win for you's not part of the contract.
If you two feel so stongly the O's tix are a ripoff you don't have to buy ...and you don't have to post either.
BTW: Do you know what the Yankees charge their "fans" to watch major league baseball ? Now that's fan abuse.

The Schmuck Stops Here Town Hall
August 12, 2009

Peter comes to the podium, wearing his best Hawaiian shirt for the occasion (albeit with a ketchup stain on the lapel).

Peter: Thanks everyone for coming. Since we just passed the one-year anniversary for “The Schmuck Stops Here” I thought it would be great to get everyone together for a Q&A about the Orioles. I’ve invited Andy MacPhail, President of Baseball Operations, to join us and he graciously agreed.

MacPhail (entering to loud applause from Schmuck readers): Thank you Peter, and thanks to the fans for sticking with us through this rebuilding process. It is rewarding to see the first signs of what is to come in the young players that we’ve brought up in recent weeks and months.

Fan wearing Brooks Robinson jersey: Andy, just let me begin by saying great job-

Peter: We don’t have any need for sarcasm like that here, sir.

Fan with Brooks Robinson jersey: I wasn’t being sarcastic- like most of the fans here I really admire the job Mr. MacPhail has done and am optimistic about the direction of this team for the first time in more than a decade. [loud applause from fans]

Peter: If you say so…

MacPhail: Thank you.

Fan with Brooks Robinson jersey: I was just wondering about our plans for the corner infield positions. Do you see us making a play for a free agent 3B or 1B this offseason, keeping Huff and/or Mora, or pulling Snyder or another prospect up?

MacPhail: Well that’s a great question, and we think we have a pretty good plan for that. First, this offseason we’re going to-

Peter: Okay onto the next question. You in the Ripken shirt- I’m betting you want to go on a tirade about how Ripken should own the team and MacPhail should be fired and we should scrap “the plan”. Am I right?

Fan in Ripken t-shirt: Actually, no. I am really excited about the growth this team is showing. I just wanted to ask Mr. MacPhail if he is concerned about some of the lapses in fundamentals Orioles players and managers have shown this year, such as the baserunning mistake last night. Is this just an issue of a last-place team losing focus in the final weeks, or should we be worried about younger players absorbing a poor mindset and bad habits? As Cal Ripken showed day in and day out, there is a point to playing the game the “right way”, whether the team is winning or losing.

MacPhail: That’s a really good question, and here’s what my opinion is on-

Peter (winking to MacPhail): Hold on, Andy. I think what this fan really means is he thinks if Trembley was fired the Orioles would be atop the AL East right now. You in the “I heart Dave” shirt- what do you think about that?

Fan in “I heart Dave” shirt: What an idiot! There is no way any other manager would have this team in contention!! Look at Hargrove, Leyland, Maddon- they all looked a lot smarter when their team was winning. You moron!!

Fan in Ripken shirt: You’re the moron! Trembley has made crucial managerial mistakes on at least a weekly basis this year that have contributed to demoralizing losses for this team. Bad position substitutions, failures to pinch hit at critical times, predictable hit and runs, questionable line-up decisions…

Young fan in Markakis jersey: Wait, what are you two fighting for? The first guy never said Trembley would have the team in contention this year; he was asking about poor fundamentals hurting the development of young players.

Fan in “I heart Dave” t-shirt: Oh, that’s actually a valid question. Why were we arguing again?

Peter: Nevermind that! I heard someone in the back say something about Tillman, Hernandez, Bergeson and Matusz all being busts because none of them has won 20 games yet. Andy, can you see what fools these fans are? This is what I have to deal with every day!

MacPhail: I didn’t hear anyone say that. [to fans] Does he always act like this?

Fan in Adam Jones jersey: Well it all started when Peter kicked off his blog. He’s become so paranoid about the fringe wacko making random comments here or there; now he perceives the worst of every fan with a valid question or a critical observation. And occasionally it can hinder more fruitful discussions.

Peter: I get it now. You think I’m just a mouthpiece for the Orioles. I will not stand here and allow people to impugn my professional integ-

Fan with Adam Jones jersey: See, Andy, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. We all love Peter and really enjoy reading his posts. Often we can have good debates, which is half the fun of talking about sports. But one day some random imbecile writes an incoherent posting calling Peter a sell-out and he’s suspicious of everyone. People like that should just be ignored.

And most of us are happy with the top-to-bottom improvement in the Orioles organization over the past two years and cautiously optimistic about the future. But we can still have opinions and criticisms about the team in the short-term. All it takes is one guy to write in and say Tillman or Wieters is a bust and Schmuck harps on it for weeks, distracting from the majority of opinions which are far more grounded. It is insulting to treat all fans as if they believed that way, and reframing the conversation around the fringe comments hinders the quality of discussion.

MacPhail: Well if you want I think I can get three beat writers, a middle-reliever, and a case of nachos from Seattle by trading him…

Fans [in unison]: NO! We would take Peter over the whole ESPN team- he is an all-star at this whole new blogging game with a lot of upside to boot, and we’re sticking with him.

Pete's reply: Where were you yesterday. I could have taken the day off.

Andy: Brilliant!

LOL. Good work Andrew. It was funny.

I don't buy tickets and it is right to voice my opinion as it is yours. I can assure you that I have attended more Oriole games than you have, and I am one the majority (a fact supported by the attendance figures over the last 10 years) that has not supported the team financially. Love the game, don't like the ownership.

Your arguement that the seller makes no promise that the team you pay to see is going to win for you is childish. You would hope the seller is trying to win. No one is implying the players don't want to win, the organization does not do what is necessary to have a winning organization. From player development to community relations, the ownership has made a mockery of what was a model organization.

As for your charge to watch teams on TV, many Maryland viewers had to miss a season of Orioles because the owner could not come to terms with the largest cable provider in the area. He wanted to charge more that they thought it was worth. Once again supply and demand. The Yankees can charge more because there is demand for them.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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