Friday, October 24, 2008

A Loewen Blow

Adam Loewen pulled a fast one on the Orioles today, signing a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Loewen, a former first round pick (#4 overall in 2002), decided to quit pitching when he couldn’t stay healthy and started a comeback as a positional player. And when the Orioles released Loewen earlier this week, they had the intention to re-sign him to a minor league contract, and believed that they had Loewen’s word that he would accept such a deal.

Enter Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Remember Gaston? He was Baltimore’s public enemy #1 in 1993 when he failed to get then-Oriole pitcher Mike Mussina into the All Star Game, which was being played at Camden Yards. It prompted the city to don “Cito Sucks” shirts at O’s games.

Expect those shirts to be making a comeback.

Once Loewen was released, Gaston got on the horn, and sold him on the Blue Jays organization. It worked. Loewen is a native Canadian and apparently rooted for the Blue Jays as a kid growing up in British Columbia. And in the end, Loewen went back on whatever word he’d given the Orioles to sign with the Blue Jays.

I don’t begrudge Loewen’s decision to make a little more scratch, and go home to play for the team he grew up rooting for. But, after the Orioles stood by him and supported his decision to make a comeback as a positional player, despite the overwhelming odds, this does sour the Loewen legacy in Baltimore.

In the end, this is likely to be much ado about nothing. There is a minimal chance Loewen makes it back to the majors as a hitter, despite almost being drafted as one back when the O’s selected him #4 overall in 2002. Loewen hasn’t consistently swung a bat since he was in college. And as much as people want to bring up Rick Ankiel, the odds are against Loewen. Ankiel’s success story is the exception, not the rule.

Well, we can only hope.

And after he turned his back on an organization that stood by him since day one, and paid him handsomely for only 164 innings pitched in the majors, don’t expect me – or many Orioles fans – to be rooting for Loewen.

You do know what this means though, don’t you? Loewen’s going to be the next Rick Ankiel. Hell, maybe he’ll challenge the most famous ex-pitching slugger of all time.

Remember him? He has Baltimore ties too. He was born here.

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