- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

The high point of Mike Flanagan's career in baseball obviously came in 1979, when he went 23-9, won the Cy Young Award and helped pitch the Baltimore Orioles to an unexpected pennant.
The low point? Well, let's check back about this time next year.
For Orioles fans, last week was decidedly bittersweet. On the good side, longtime slugger Eddie Murray was listed on the ballot for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the popular Flanagan was named a vice president for the club.
On the bad side, owner Peter Angelos decreed that Flanagan would be sharing the VP job and responsibilities with Jim Beattie, and shortstop Mike Bordick in effect departed when he and the Orioles failed to reach agreement on a new contract.
Worst of all, former star pitcher Dave McNally died of cancer in Montana at age 60. McNally and Flanagan personified what used to be called the Oriole Way meaning the technically and logically correct methods of playing the game thereby reiterating the contrast between how things were and how they are.
Every time it appears the Orioles can't sink any lower and 67-95 last season was pretty darn low the Angelos regime surprises us. Could they be shooting for, say, 105 losses next season? The black cloud hovering over Camden Yards since 1998 is getting lower and wider.
Take the Bordick fiasco. He wanted to return, manager Mike Hargrove wanted him to return and Flanagan said as recently as Friday that the club wanted him to return. Then, presumably, the Flanagan-Beattie managerial tandem got a call from King Peter, or one of his minions. After making $5million last season, the shortstop received an offer of $1.5million with no incentives. Forget it, baby. Bordick's agent, Joe Bick, was correct when he said, "Is it reasonable for a starting shortstop in the big leagues for a decade to be paid what a three-year utility player would make? I don't think we're the ones being unreasonable."
Ya gotta give Flanagan credit, though, for learning to talk Peterspeak with amazing speed. When the Bordick negotiations collapsed before the Saturday midnight deadline, Flanny insisted, "We would have loved to have had Bordy back. It wasn't a lowball offer."
Say what? It certainly was a lowball offer, and Flanagan should know you don't win many games throwing pitches out of the strike zone.
True, Bordick is 37, missed 30 games last season with a fractured kneecap and has spoken of retirement. But he also set major league records for consecutive errorless games (110) and chances (543), wielded a dangerous clutch bat in the eighth or ninth spot and provided considerable clubhouse leadership on a young team. At short, the Orioles now have only untested Eddie Rogers, who is considered a year away from being a regular in the bigs. That means at this week's winter meetings, Flanagan-Beattie might be stopping people in the Nashville streets and asking, "Ever played shortstop?"
"Uh, no, I haven't?"
"Well, could you learn?"
And as far as the Orioles' timeline at short is concerned, let's achieve parody, if not parity, with turn of the (last) century New York columnist Franklin P. Adams (a k a FPA) who penned one of baseball's most memorable poems.
These are the saddest of possible words.
Ripken to Bordick to ?

I don't want to be too harsh on Messrs. Beattie and Flanagan, because both know whereof they speak or, when you work for Angelos, whereof you squeak. It's just that it's so hard to keep their titles straight.
Let's see: Beattie is executive VP of baseball operations, and Flanagan VP of baseball operations or is it the other way around? And what about good old Syd Thrift, who ran the Orioles for Angelos until last week? Reportedly, he'd like to hang around as an adviser, which would give Angelos a chance to turn down good advice from three solid baseball men.
No matter how good their intentions and credentials, I'm betting that Beattie and Flanagan will step on each other's toes. When two people share leadership, it almost never works something like this.
Hargrove: "Hey, we're dying for a right-handed setup man in the bullpen. Get me one, the quicker the better."
Flanagan: "OK, Grover, let me clear it with Jim."
Beattie: "OK. Grover, let me clear it with Peter."
Angelos: "Forget it go on losing with what you have."
I don't know if this sort of thing will happen, but it could. After all, Angelos presumably spends most of his time these days trying to keep a team out of Washington.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide