Friday, December 18, 2009
O's lowlights of 2000's
As the decade comes to a close, it seems like everyone is putting out their "top 10 of the decade" lists, myself included over on my other blog. But when it comes to the O's, are there really any highlights to be listed in the 2000's?
Most of them would be offseason acquisitions that seemed good at the time instead of on-the-field accomplishments. The Erik Bedard trade is probably the decade's best moment for O's fans, a trade that netted them an All Star closer and center fielder, as well as a top pitching prospect and a promising bullpen arm. But after that, it drops off quite drastically. Maybe you could consider the Miguel Tejada signing in 2004, but we all know how that ended.
Anything else? I think we swept the Yankees twice in the 2000's, including the end-of-season sweep of New York in 2000 which caused the Orioles to miss on drafting Mark Teixeira by one spot. So would that actually be considered a highlight? Don't think so.
If anything, the 2000's were a decade to forget as an Oriole fan. There wasn't a single winning season and the good things are far outweighed by the bad. So we might as well accept it and enjoy it before we close the drawer to this decade and forget it ever happened.
Here are my top 10 Orioles lowlights of the 2000's.
10. Orioles swept by Nationals at home. Ever since the Nationals arrived in D.C., Oriole fans have considered the Nationals to be one of the few teams below them in terms of suckitude. In early June of 2007, the Orioles were hovering around .500 like they always tend to do early in the season. And after the O's had dropped 2 of 3 to the Rockies, the Orioles were licking their chops as the 27-37 Nationals were coming into town. Wrong. The Nationals proceeded to sweep the hapless birds in front of shocked and distraught Oriole fans. The Orioles would then go onto lose 4 more games, losing 9 total games in a row, and killing any chances of salvaging a winning record for the season.
9. Raffy, Part II. When the Orioles signed Rafael Palmeiro in 2004, it seemed that the Orioles were righting their past wrongs. After all, Palmeiro left the Orioles for the Rangers in 1999 after Peter Angelos jerked him around during contract negotiations. But Raffy was not the same player he had been when he re-joined the Orioles, and when the Congress got involved with baseball's steroid scandal, Palmeiro was called to testify in Washington. Images of him angrily pointing his finger at Congress, saying he's never ever taken PED's, are now infamous. Well, Palmeiro tested positive mid-way through the 2005 season and was suspended. When he returned to the Orioles, he was booed so badly he had to wear earplugs. The Orioles sent him home at the end of the 2005 season and the second go-round with Palmeiro, one that was supposed to heal old wounds, had just ripped them open again.
8. Sidney Ponson. Ponson was recently named "worst pitcher of the decade" by ESPN. There have probably been worse pitchers in the aughts, but none have squandered more talent than Ponson. His early career in Baltimore was full of hope and promise and his 2003 season was proof that he'd finally turned the corner. But after he was traded during that season, he resigned with the Orioles the following year and never became the pitcher we all hoped he'd become. His off-the-field escapades are infamous, including getting drunk at Metallica concerts the night before he is scheduled to start and punching judges in Aruba. Once Ponson was arrested for a DUI in 2005, he was released by the Orioles, who claimed a breach of contract. Since then, Ponson has bounced around the league, failing to hang on anywhere.
7. The downfall of Miguel Tejada. Prior to becoming an Oriole in 2004, Tejada was an ambassador of baseball, much in the way that Cal Ripken was before him. Tejada always had a smile on his face and was as competitive as they came. When he signed with the Orioles in 2004, he vowed to turn the Orioles around, and was told by the Orioles font office that they would surround him with talent to win. Only they didn't. And once Tejada slowly realized this, it was probably one of the most depressing Oriole subplots in the 2000's. Tejada had just spent the prime of his career on a team that had lied to him. That isn't to say that Tejada didn't give it his all. His 2004 season ranks as one of the best offensive seasons in Orioles history. But once the mid-season 2005 collapse occurred, Tejada sulked, asked to be traded, and just looked like a worn down factory worker for the following 2 years before he was traded.
6. Say it ain't Sosa. In the offseason before 2005, the Orioles traded for Cubs slugger, Sammy Sosa in a move that raised a lot of eyebrows. Despite having declining numbers for a couple of seasons, Sosa was still a homerun machine, and many thought Sosa would add power to a line-up that had Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez in it already. Instead, Sosa hit a dreadful .221 with 14 HR and 45 RBI. He was sent home at the end of the season and like Palmeiro, connected to the steroids scandal. His time spent in Baltimore is as much an oddity as Reggie Jackson spending the 1976 season with the Orioles and Pete Rose playing half a season for the Montreal Expos in 1984.
5. Intentional walk results in game winning hit. Reliever Todd Williams was trying to put Marlins' slugger Miguel Cabrera on base late in a game in 2006. Cabrera alertly swung at the first pitch, which wasn't that far off the plate, and blooped it into shallow right field, scoring the go-ahead run. The Marlins would go on to win the game, 8-5.
4. Jack Cust Slip-N-Slide. In 2003, the Orioles were playing the Yankees at home in Baltimore, a team they went 6-13 against that season. In the 9th inning with 2 outs, Jack Cust rounded third representing the tying run. He would have scored easily had he not fallen down as he rounded third. Cust then began to crawl toward home plate and was tagged out easily. Game over. Orioles Lose.
3. Mother's Day Massacre. The Orioles were in Boston, and had won game 1 of the 3 game series. That Sunday, Mother's Day, Jeremy Guthrie pitched one of his best games as an Oriole, after he had just entered the rotation after beginning the season in the bullpen. The Orioles entered the 9th inning ahead 5-0. Guthrie even got the first batter to ground out. But then the horrors began. Ramon Hernandez dropped a pop fly, allowing a runner to get on base. Sam Perlozzo, about to lose his job, removed Guthrie for Danys Baez, who promptly allowed a double and a single. That's OK, the O's were still winning 5-1 and only needed 2 outs. Everything is still OK. Wrong. Perlozzo brings in Chris Ray who promptly walks the next 2 batters, including walking in a run. So now it's 5-2. But the bases are loaded. Next batter? Varitek doubles, driving in 2. O's are still winning 5-4. We just need 2 outs, people! Ray intentionally walks the next batter and then retires Alex Cora. Just 1 out to go! Julio Lugo dribbles a grounder to Kevin Millar who flips the ball to Chris Ray for the final out, only Ray drops the ball and 2 runs score to give Boston the win 6-5. Mothers across the Baltimore metro area throw the remote at the television and rip apart their bouquets.
2. 4-32. It's hard to believe that the 2002 Orioles were 61-61 on August 23rd. It actually looked like the team had come together and would actually finish out the season in a respectable fashion. WRONG. The Orioles set a record for the worst record in a 36 game stretch, finishing the season 4-32. Ouch.
1. 30-3. The Orioles received the worst beating in modern baseball when they lost 30-3 to the Texas Rangers in 2007. Oh, and at the time, the Rangers had a worse record than the Orioles! It's hard to believe that after 3 innings, the Orioles were actually winning 3-0, which means that the Rangers scored a whopping 30 unanswered runs in just 6 innings. They scored 16 runs in the last two innings. Two Texas hitters had 7 RBI a piece and two others had 4 RBI a piece. No Orioles pitcher allowed fewer than 6 ER. I could go on with the embarrassing stats for days, so I will simply end it here. In a decade of lowlights, the Orioles 30-3 loss takes the cake.
So did I miss any? There are so many to choose from, I am sure there are some that I missed. Let me know if I forgot any other lowlights from the 2000's.