- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 21, 2002

BALTIMORE Mike Bordick charged the ball, dodged the shard of Jason Varitek's bat that was spiraling toward him, adjusted nicely to catch a bad bounce to his right and, on the run, fired to first baseman Jeff Conine.
In a season of defensive excellence, Bordick even managed to make this difficult ninth-inning play look easy.
And when Bordick trotted off the field to complete his record-setting 102nd straight errorless game by a shortstop, the most under-appreciated member of the Baltimore Orioles finally got his due recognition.
The crowd of 32,648 at Camden Yards rose to its feet and gave Bordick a standing ovation.
The Orioles lost a 4-2 ballgame to the Boston Red Sox last night, adding to their late-season swoon. Bordick, however, won the admiration of teammates and the respect of fans upon setting a record of unquestioned excellence.
With another flawless performance at the game's most demanding position, Bordick surpassed Rey Ordonez's major league record, set in 1999-2000 with the New York Mets.
Bordick's accomplishment wasn't met with the same kind of fanfare that was bestowed upon Barry Bonds for his 71st home run last season or Cal Ripken for his 2,131st consecutive game in 1995. Perhaps the notion of a player cleanly fielding every grounder and popup hit his way since April 10 isn't cause for jubilation.
"Defense always gets taken for granted," Conine said. "They want to see home runs, they want to see RBIs, that's what's exciting. I hate to say it's boring, but he's just so consistent, you don't think about it. Groundball to Bordick it's automatic."
But after making his difficult play on Varitek's broken-bat grounder, his fourth chance of the night, Bordick received a warm ovation, a brief video tribute, and even the applause of Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
And all of it was for good reason.
In 531 chances this season, Bordick has committed one error a booted grounder April 10 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Since then, he has handled 504 chances, a major league record for shortstops.
To put that in perspective, Rangers superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez has committed eight errors during what many are calling a Gold Glove-caliber season. Oakland's Miguel Tejada has 19. Boston's Garciaparra has 24.
"To have one error, I don't think fans understand or appreciate how phenomenal that is," Baltimore second baseman Jerry Hairston said. "It's tough to have 10-15 errors as a middle infielder, so to have one error at shortstop, that's just incredible."
When it comes to defensive prowess, Bordick's skills are second to none. When it comes to offensive skills, the 37-year-old still leaves something to be desired he entered last night's game with a .230 batting average and 35 RBI.
That lack of production should have no bearing on the managers and coaches who hand out Gold Glove awards, but there is an overall perception that Bordick (who has a .998 fielding percentage) once again will be denied his first career honor. Cleveland's Omar Vizquel has won the last nine Gold Gloves among AL shortstops, and Rodriguez appears to be the most likely to break that streak.
"He's deserved one before this," Conine said of Bordick. "I think he should be recognized for it. It's definitely been a pleasure to be on the receiving end of what he's done. He's the best I've ever played with."


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