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June 22, 2011

O's: This is the Pitts

If you've been reading me regularly -- and who hasn't -- you know that I said it was imperative for the Orioles to win their interleague series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now because of any rivalry between the two cities, but because of the sad state of baseball in both towns and what it says to fans when you're selling a turnaround and you can't beat the NL version of yourself.

This is not about where the Orioles are in their redevelopment, because we already know where they are. It's really just a matter of public relations, because the most positive fans are looking for any reason to be optimistic and this series provided just the opposite. If you can't beat the other struggling teams, you're just exascerbating your credibility problem.

Here's the most important thing I learned from this series. The key player in this losing equation -- like last year is a player who isn't playing. Brian Roberts, when healthy, is the glue that holds the infield defense and the batting order together. When and if he comes back, I suspect you'll see a much more competitive team, but you've got to be starting to doubt whether Roberts will play again this season.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 4:01 PM | | Comments (44)
Categories: Just baseball


Sure, Roberts is a solid player and I was one of those pushing for the contract extension(glad it's not coming out of my pocket!). We have to face the real possibility that he may not be back anytime soon and when he does return, he likely won't be the same.
The fact is many teams play through injuries;they are inevitable. The O's don't have any depth so thus they have to play the likes of Andino/Lugo and bring up players that aren't MLB calibre.
A 3-6 road trip isn't going to help give them something to build on, especially since we face solid teams for the next while.
The O's are finding many ways to lose games, which is what bad teams do. The management group doesn't seem to concerned about making too many changes as the only moves made recently was to dump Accardo and bring back pitchers that struggled before.
Buck is becoming a push-button manager with the same lineup/bullpen moves, along with the same Trembley-like post game quotes/excuses. He looks like a manager who is bored/resigned to the current sad state of affairs, which to me, is the most depressing part of all as I thought Buck was going to be the 'guy' to help turn this mess around.
Granted, he hasn't been handed a roster full of all-stars either but he did much better last year with a worse team so he must shoulder some of the blame.

Ugh. Just ugh. How discouraging.

Let's see. 1 out 3 against agianst Tampa, 1 out 3 against Toronto (much better than usual), 1 out of 3 against Washington and 1 out of 3 against Pittsburgh. See a trend here?

Let's see. 1 out 3 against agianst Tampa, 1 out 3 against Toronto (much better than usual), 1 out of 3 against Washington and 1 out of 3 against Pittsburgh. See a trend here?


I agree with you about the importance of having a healthy Brian Roberts in the lineup. But as I said before the season started {even if he comes back later this season} going forward his injury status should always be regarded as "day to day." Bizarre things happen to this organization, including a key player who is suffering recurring concussive symptoms as a result of hitting himself in the head with his own bat. How wierd is that? I think you or Jeff used the term "snakebitten" to describe the team. Perfect.

Injuries to key players happen in every sport. The real problem is that they never had a back-up plan to Roberts.

What this team needs is someone who can hit with runners in scoring position. Lee had to drive in the runner at third with one out. They had chances in each game with runners in scoring position and they cannot come through. To have as many hits as they have had and not scoring as many runs is crazy.

They are just a snake bit and cursed team.

I do not see any enthusiasm for the Baltimore Orioles among the fan base. I see alot of empty seats. Just as with the Colts the last 3 years they were here, the fans are slowly dwindling away. This is what happens when you don't put a competitive team on the field. You will be lucky to draw 20,000 fans a game. The Red Sox and Yankee fans will come to see their teams play and inflate the attendence. But, other than that, the Orioles are just filling out the schedule. It is a shame the Pirates and the Orioles, who once fought for the championship of baseball, are but a shell of their former selves and are now quite irrelevant in major league baseball.


Brian is a shell of his former self when healthy. For this team to rely on him when it was clear last season he would be very questionable is very irresponsible oe club.

Pittsburgh, the tam that has more consecutive losing seasons in the history of baseball, just wokn the series from the orioles. This, following the embarrassment in d.c.

And this isn't even rock bottom

The most important thing I learned is that we have no decent position players coming from our minor leagues. This year we've brought up Reimold, Snyder, Tatum, Adams, and now Davis. Today there are only 2 players in Norfolk hitting above .265.

Going into the season we know Roberts was key and that his health was questionable, so you really have to question the lack of a backup plan. The O's have played 4 other players there (Andino, Izturis, Adams, Davis). And we've struggled with a leadoff hitter.

Pete, is it that hard to build a ballclub, or at least see a major concern in front of you and ignore it? I'm tired of hearing things like there were too many issues to address. This one should have been. Oh, that's right, we did address it. With Harris (.222 AAA) and Green (.197 AAA).

Pete: This is important--on researching Michael Collins, the "doctor" in Pittsburgh who is seeing Brian Roberts, I discovered that he is NOT A PHYSICIAN. He is a PhD clinical psychologist, and while he may well be a distinguished researcher who has published on concussion, I do not believe he is qualified to evaluate or treat patients. Do Roberts or the Orioles even know that Collins is not a physician?
I have asked a prominent local Professor of Neurology for his opinion, and he agrees that Roberts should be seen by a physician. If Roberts and the Orioles agree, he recommends Barry Gordon, M.D. of Hopkins, an expert in sports-related head injuries.
Please forward this information to Oriole officials. Thanks!
Cyril Barnert, M.D. (Johns Hopkins, 1966).

The offense that showed up for a brief appearance in game one went on a bender and forgot to show up for the next two games.
The lousy defense that has been a hallmark of O's teams dating back a decade or so, cost them a couple of runs again.
The names and faces change, but Orioles baseball remains pretty much the same as it has been. Perhaps they'll put together another long run of good baseball once they're far enough below .500 that they don't need to be afraid of passing it.

Agreed, Schmuck. Andino hasn't been doing the job (leaving a small army out there) and although Hardy has done a great job at leadoff, it leaves us weak at the bottom. With Hardy at the bottom, we would be driving in tons of runs.

peter this team should not be in the dumper just because their spark plug is on the shelf.someone or more than someone has to take over leadership. brian roberts is going to retire or forced into retirement due to his health one of these is sad when you can't beat the teams you ought to smear to smitherenes. i woud be ashamed to show myself in a post game interview with the way the orioles are playing and they are now scheduled to play teams 500 or above. just flat out rideiculas.

i hope if and when roberts does return....he is dropped in the order...for a few reasons

Pretty obvious to me Roberts is done for the season and really, why play again this season. He's been bothered by all kinds of injuries and now the concussion thing is very scary. Granted, the O's are a better team with him in the lineup, but this franchsie just finds different ways to lose each night. Earlier in the season, the pitching was pretty good and nobody could hit, now the hitting has come around and the pitching hasn't been as good and the defense has been atrocious. I can't ever say the O's should win a series against this team or that team because every opponent knows they have to win series against the Orioles, you know, one of baseball's laughingstocks for over a decade.

Brian Roberts is done, he may play again, but he has very little left with his various health issues so the Birds might as well add a second baseman to the wish list.....Birds basically need an entire new infield save for JJ.

I know everybody blames the rookie second basemans for the loss with his error but I can't do that because the o's had plenty of opportunities early in the game to build up a lead but they continue to leave men in scoring position just like they have done all season. I know they had at least two doubles early in the game that were wasted. for the life of me I can't understand why Buck doesn't do more sacrificing to get one run at a time instead of waiting for the three run homer which just isn't happening!

Well...condolences. We can change the channel or find good baseball in Philly or elsewhere...but you are stuck in the trenches. Again. I'll keep reading and await your word as to when it's worth paying attention.

I understand that a concussion is a problem, and I would never presume to second-guess someone who is taking their time recovering from that kind of injury. But is something else going on here? I've herniated disks in my back and neck (four, to be precise) and it makes you wonder about your durability. I'm really wondering if Roberts is examining whether or not he can compete at a major-league caliber after blowing out the body's equivalent of shock-absorbers. I'm still active (in fact, I still play baseball in an over 30 league) but there are some days where I wake up in the morning and the soreness, stiffness and pain tell me that I'm paying a big-time price for my hobby. That's once or twice a week - I can't imagine trying it for a 162-game season. I wouldn't fault Roberts if he was contemplating the same thing right now. He's a bright guy and could probably do a lot of things in his life. If that is where he is, hopefully he and the Orioles can have an honest conversation sooner rather than later. Regardless, I wish him the best.

Pete's reply: There are a lot of unanswered questions, but I agree with you on one thing. I also wish him the best and hope he only comes back if he wants to and is in no danger of long-term problems.

Your estimation of Brian Roberts' influence on this is grossly excessive.

The Orioles' turnaround last year was clearly not because of Roberts' magical influence on the club. In his 14 games with the team before Buck's debut (both in April before his DL stint, and in July after), the Orioles went 3-11. The Orioles' turnaround began the very day Buck took over, when Roberts had already been back on the roster for weeks without any impact on the team's losing. The calendar is pretty clear on this, it doesn't take a statistician to see what the driving variable is.

This year, the Os were two games under .500 in games Roberts played in, so why is there post after post after post framing the guy as some kind of savior?

The fact is that Roberts has only played in about 40% of the team's games over the past two seasons, missing game after game with headaches or backaches. When he plays he has been batting under .250 (again over the past two seasons), with a meager 7 HR.

Based on the way everything has been blamed on Roberts over the past two seasons you would think the guy was a perennial all-star who hits .320 with 30 HRs. He is not, and as a matter of fact Hardy has been doing much, much better in the lead-off spot than Roberts has done there in years, perhaps ever. Roberts .281 lifetime average and 7.6 HRs per season (which Hardy has already exceeded with 9) is not the profile of a season-changing player so we should stop acting like that's what he is.

And please don't say something about stolen bases. The facts speak for themselves- the Os lose just as often with Roberts in the lineup as without.

I somewhat agree w/you...we are a more competitve team w/Roberts; however, we are not a "good" team w/Roberts. We are an "average" to "mediocare" team w/him and a "bad" or "worst" team without him.

Pete I couldn`t have said it better myself. I will go one step further though. Before this team can win any kind of championship they have to learn how to play baseball. These guys are not winners and they don`t know how to play baseball. The losing is systemic and most of the guys on the major league roster have to be traded for prospets to build up the minor leagues. The minor leage players have to learn how to play baseball not hit home runs. Let them learn together, play together and win together. Then promote them to the majors. Pitching and defense is the way to do it not home run derby. I also don`t think that Roberts will be back again this year.


The B-Rob excuse can no longer be used. The sample size of B-Rob's playing time in the past couple of seasons has been very small. Therefore it is a stretch to crown him as the "glue" that holds anything on this team. In fact, B-Rob has been playing well for years on a bad team. Let's face it, B-Rob doesn't make or break this team. He makes a bad team look a bit better than horrible.

Interestingly enough, B-Rob had a stretch of 10 good games this year. The rest of the games he played in, he stunk up every joint he played in.

I think we are approaching the reality check part of the season. We can skin it any way you want, but it comes down to the PLAN. 4 years into this MacPhailure, the same problems persist, and the same questions still linger. New manager, new coaching staff, new players, but same old GM and Owner.

Andy MacPhail, the evil genius that he is, will houdini his way out again, by throwing yet another bone to drooling fans, in form of a pathetic trade or two before the all-star break.

I can see it now: The PLAN! To be continued ...

Pete - question for you.

When will Angelos start getting tired paying huge dollars to top five draft picks? If this year ends in with the Orioles drafting in 2012 in the top five again I do not see much of a future for Andy being the teams GM next year.

As of now everyone can see the "wheels" coming off this season - the Orioles may not even win 70 games the way this team is producing.

Pete's reply: I don't know how many games they are going to win, but they probably aren't going to win very many the next three weeks. What a nasty spot in the schedule.

I'm still waiting for one realist in the organization to step and say, "we hope for the best with Roberts, but we have to start planning for life without him". This is a man with more medical problems than he is willing to reveal.
That back problem is worse than anyone is willing to say it is. He put things in his body that made him strong for a short period of time, but not for the long haul. His body now has to pay for that mistake unfortunately.

I'm not so chipper about this team anymore....We need to trade Guthrie for a top prospect speedy middle infielder with excellent defence,,,,someone like Roberts only 10 years younger....and hopefully Luke heats up and we can trade him....and hopefully Vlad smacks the tar out of the ball and trade him....same with Lee...

sign JJ or trade him for 3 prospects also..

oh and win 10 in a row please O's

This was the year we hoped for a resurrection of the team, but it is beginning to feel like a requiem for the franchise. RR

Dear Orioles,

Please stop sucking.

Your pal,


Any chance Angelos will sell the team to Mark Cuban?

I'm with you Smitty .. this team needs to be gutted, HOWEVER it needs to be replenished with legitimate talent. These losers they have won't get them legitimate talent. You need to spend money for that.

MacPhail and Angelos are freaking business geniuses. They have practically run a profitable business with minimum spending and effort. All throughout this process, they have kept fans interested and hoping that things will change. Just pure genius on their part. Kudos to them. They will continue to operate that way, because Baltimore Oriole fans don't know what winning means. We don't know how to demand it. We don't have winning standards. We don't hold management and ownership accountable. We get what we deserve. We deserve losing, and we're getting it. Enough said.


That's an interesting point you bring up about Collins not being an MD. I've heard, on good authority, that Roberts' heart is no longer in the game, and he's looking for a way to not play and still collect his salary. So it makes perfect sense that he would be seeing a psychologist rather than an MD.

This team needs to make a bold move drastically. Yes nick markakis is very well liked but he may be the most saleable piece for this team. He would get the most in return.

My proposal would be with the mets. And it could settle alot of spots all in one. I have read where people suggest that Reynolds' with his defense would be suited for the DH (this might just work as he takes alot of pitches). You would have to give up Guthrie as well and throw in a LF'er (Pie or Reimold). The team would ask for Reyes and Wright. Then either Reyes or Hardy moves to 2B. So now the team would have instant improvement on the infield defense. A better hitting lineup. Then the team would have to find a suitable 1B (maybe Fielder would then sign here).

As far as filling in the RF spot it would seem as though there would be someone to sign in free agency or someone in the farm system (can Kipp Schultz play RF?). Or short term put Blake Davis there.

This team needs to find solutions. The best way to it is with a dramatic move. This is all pipe dream from my perspective but it really is something that is needed. The club is losing its allure and needs to try something like this. You have to give up something to get something. Give Markakis and get something good. Maybe it would work.

agreed with comment about the colts/ orioles attandance. the colts did have dwindling attendance which contributed to their exit. of course all at the fault of irsay. the orioles are now ina similar situation with a bad owner / non caring about team performance. but their are 2 differences. a) camden yards, the colts didnt have a first class facility, as much as i loved memorial, it was past its prime. b) baseball needs a salary cap, look what it has done for football. the worst thing to happen to baseball was in '94 when the owners caved and did not implement a salary cap. everyone is losing interest , everyone outside of the big market cities, if you are not going to have a cap then you need all the big money spenders in one division. period. but that wont happen and baseball will continue to lose interest. its a shame i went to so many games in the 80's with murray, ripken, and before it was electric at mem stadium. i doubt will ever see that again. too bad for the young generation. without camden yards and the emergence of the nationals the orioles would go the way of the colts.

You do have to wonder if mr angelos looks at mark Cuban with envy. Here's A billionaire who doesn't just buys items to let them rot. He buys them hoping for extreme success. he took a down franchise and while he didn't win a championship right away, he immediately turned them into a firSt class operation. Kit seems, the man has pride.

Mr angelos sir, please have some pride. Yes, you are a very successful man. But you've destoyed what was once marylands pride and join, the Baltimore orioles.

Please sir, sell the team to someone who cares and has pride towards the city of Baltimore.


While a having healthy Brian Roberts is a plus, the key difference between the 2010 "Buck-O's" (in the last 57 games) and the 2011 ("Buck-") O's is that the number of runs scored by the opposition has jumped up this year. Of course, as we've seen, this has something to do with the quality of the O's defense, but at this point there isn't much difference in the run production between the 2010 Buck-O's and the 2011 O's.

Average number of runs per game scored by the Buck-O's in 2010: 4.11.

Average number runs per game scored by the O's in 2011 so far: 4.11.

Average number of runs per game scored by the opposition against the Buck-O's in 2010: 3.72.

Average number runs per game scored by the opposition against the O's in 2011 so far: 4.72.

It's also notable that the 2010 Buck-O's, at 34-23, had more wins in 57 games than the 2011 O's, at 33-39, do in 72 games, which is 15 more games played.

Other items of interest:

The number of games the O's under Buck in 2010 were able to keep the opposition to 3 runs or less: 29.
The O's W-L record in these games: 26-3.

The number of games in 2011 so far that the O's were able to keep the opposition to 3 runs or less: 29.
The O's W-L record in these games: 25-4.

The number of games under Buck in 2010 that the opposition scored 4 or more runs: 28.
The O's W-L record in these games: 8-20.

The number of games in 2011 so far that the opposition scored 4 or more runs: 43.
The O's W-L record in these games: 8-35.

So basically the O's have played 15 more games this season than they did in 2010 under Buck, and in each of these "extra" 15 games the opposition has scored 4 or more runs and the O's have lost.

when i left baltimore 15 yrs ago, i said the O's would suck as long as Angelos owned the team.......guess i didnt miss much in 15 years

Pirates beat the Phillies 2 out of 3 at PNC Park a couple of weeks ago. Are the Pirates better than the Phillies? Never put too much emphasis on a single series in the regular season.

The Pirates and the O's have been basically the same team for the last 13 years, only the O's have had twice the payroll. Bring back the 70's!

There is a classic scene from the original Star Trek where some alien force takes over the Enterprise and sends the ship hurtling through space at the maximum sustainable warp speed. Mr. Spock does a quick analysis and announces to Kirk and the crew that by his calculations their current course will bring them right back to the same point in space a number of years in the future. Scotty has the killer line, though, when upon hearing Spock’s news, he says to Kirk, “And Captain, at this rate, we’re going nowhere….mighty fast". Truer words were never spoken regarding the sad state of the current Baltimore Orioles franchise.

I was 8 when the O's won the world series... one of my favorite childhood memories.
On Sunday I welcomed my 1st son into this world. I wonder how old he will be when the O's win their next world series. I have a feeling it won't be within the next 8 years.

If you were wondering, the Os are training them up early on in their careers in the Oriole Way...either that or the young guys are channeling their heroes on the big league club

Frederick Bottom of the 2nd
Tyler Kolodny walks.
Miguel Abreu walks. Tyler Kolodny to 2nd.
Dale Mollenhauer walks. Tyler Kolodny to 3rd. Miguel Abreu to 2nd.
Brian Ward grounds into a force out, first baseman Andy Wilkins to catcher Michael Blanke. Tyler Kolodny out at home. Miguel Abreu to 3rd. Dale Mollenhauer to 2nd. Brian Ward to 1st.
Jacob Julius called out on strikes.
Steven Bumbry strikes out swinging.

@Steve Ellerston: when Angelos gets tired of paying huge sums for high draft picks he simply picks someone like Luke Hobgood, who is not highly rated, and comes cheaply. That way, the team never gets any better, but Angelos gets richer, which is the whole idea....

Nothing changes here without an ownership change. Angelos has poisoned this franchise and will never attract the management or personnel necessary to make a winner. We can talk this thing all we want, but that is the fundamental reality we have to deal with.

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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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