- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Mike Hargrove — now the former manager of the Baltimore Orioles — never was pictured on the cover of an Orioles media guide in any of the four years he managed the team.

That doesn’t mean a future Orioles manager wasn’t on the cover of the media guide in the past four seasons. This year’s, in fact, may have had one on the cover — Eddie Murray. That is, of course, if you believe in the future lies in the past.

Murray wasn’t even a member of the Orioles organization this year — he is the hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians — but in an unusual move the Orioles put his mug on their media guide cover to mark his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It’s a guarantee the Orioles’ front-office duo of Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan didn’t make that decision, which is not unusual. General managers don’t usually give a hoot about who is on the cover — except if it is the manager-in-waiting whom the owner loves. There’s a good chance Murray could again end up on the media guide cover in 2004 as the newly hired Orioles manager.

And if that’s the case, it would present a problem because if Murray is the next manager of the Orioles, Beatagan would not have had a say in that decision.

The intrigue, boys and girls, is back at the B&O; Warehouse now that Hargrove was let go after four years and a 275-372 record. That intrigue is long overdue, it has been awfully boring around here the past four years.

They used to call Hargrove the Human Rain Delay when he was a player because he took so long in the batter’s box. He proved to be equally adept at keeping the turmoil level down in the Orioles’ organization, particularly when Syd Vicious — the man who taught Branch Rickey everything he knew — left the front office last year.

Hargrove, day after day, sat in that manager’s chair and rarely lost his cool. He never criticized a player in public or felt the need to complain about the hand he was dealt — manage a Class AAA-talent level team and ask it to compete in the major leagues. He said last spring he was blessed with the sort of personality that doesn’t let his ego get in the way of his business and that slights are just that — slights.

Actually, he was the perfect manager for owner Peter Angelos because he recognized one particular truth — either you own the team or you don’t. Hargrove knew who owned the team and yesterday had nothing but praise for Angelos. “I have been able to manage for two of the better owners in baseball, Dick Jacobs (who owned the Cleveland Indians when Hargrove managed there from 1991 to 1999) and Peter Angelos,” Hargrove said. “I was in shock when I first got here and read some of the things that were written about Mr. Angelos.”

Still, it gets old writing million dollar checks to someone who manages your team and loses 90-plus games a year — even if its doubtful anyone else could have done better with the same players. So when Beatagan came to the owner Sunday night recommending he not renew Hargrove’s contract, the owner signed off on it.

He may not be so willing to go along with a recommendation to replace Hargrove. According to sources within the organization, Angelos is in love with the idea of Eddie Murray coming home to manage the Orioles and putting together a staff of former Orioles that would include Scott McGregor as pitching coach and Rich Dauer as bench coach.

Angelos also likes the idea of hiring Rick Dempsey as manager. Angelos has been enamored with Dempsey since he interviewed him for the job after Johnny Oates was fired in 1994. However, Dempsey might be a dealbreaker for Beatagan. Beatagan wouldn’t put up as big a fight over Murray — who by the second game of the exhibition season may be sending Elrod Hendricks out to talk to reporters — as they would over Dempsey.

There are other horses in this race as well. Orioles bench coach Sam Perlozzo was recommended by Hargrove as his replacement. “I would like to see Sammy get that job,” Hargrove said. “He is as good a baseball man as you’ll find in the game. I think he would be a great choice for the job.”

Class AAA Ottawa manager Gary Allenson also is considered a candidate, as well as former Orioles coach and Texas manager Jerry Narron. And if Jim Tracy gets fired in Los Angeles — which is a distinct possibility — look for him to jump into the mix. He has a long association with Beattie.

Only one of these horses, though, is on the cover of the Orioles media guide. Only one went out of his way to thank Peter Angelos during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. And only one has his number retired by the Orioles.

Now managing the 2004 Baltimore Orioles — number 33, Eddie Murray. Peter Angelos will have to be convinced otherwise.

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