- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Well, with the exit of the Baltimore Orioles from the American League Championship Series in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, it’s time to pick up the bats and the balls and call the local 2014 baseball season a wrap — and a rousing success.

Both major league franchises made the playoffs, and while both may have disappointed their fans at the end, the truth is the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing.

Twenty teams were done playing after 162 games, and all of their fans would have traded places with those in Washington and Baltimore, despite the painful postseason losses.

If this was a tough loss for Orioles fans, imagine what it was like for owner Peter Angelos. One of his bitter enemies during the 1994 baseball strike was Royals owner David Glass, who led the owners in their quest to use replacement players — which Angelos refused to do.

Maybe the only thing worse would have been for Angelos to lose to Ted Lerner — his MASN business partner and now courtroom rival — and the Washington Nationals in a Parkway World Series.

The other series — the Coaxial Cable series — continues Dec. 15 in New York Supreme Court, where both sides seeking to feast on the regional sports network money will meet for a hearing.

The Orioles were winners on the field this year, and what that team did was remarkable: Winning 96 games, running away with the AL East by 12 games and sweeping the Detroit Tigers in three games in the Division Series while losing key players like Matt Wieters and Manny Machado to season-ending injuries and Chris Davis to a drug suspension.

Everyone wants to hold a parade for Orioles manager Buck Showalter, which I find amusing. Showalter was public enemy number one at Camden Yards when he used to bring the Yankees to town from 1992 to 1995.

But the lion’s share of the credit for this team continuing to win and win often without their best players should go to the man who constructed the roster, general manager Dan Duquette.

Duquette is low key, and doesn’t have the charisma that Showalter has in his pinky finger, but when you lose your best players and other guys step up to fill the void, that is a testament to the roster the general manager built.

Duquette was the Red Sox general manager who laid much of the groundwork for that team’s World Serie success in 2004 — two years after he had been fired — and was out of the game until the Orioles hired him in November 2011.

He nearly became general manager of the Nationals when the Expos relocated to the District. Duquette wanted the job, but was passed over the Major League Baseball — the owners of the franchise at the time — in favor of the clown prince and franchise gravedigger, Jim Bowden.

If Duquette had gotten the job, perhaps a better foundation might have been in place for this franchise in its first five years of existence in Washington. But it wouldn’t have been as entertaining.

Speaking of Bowden, I guess I have to give him some credit for something he told me when he came to Washington. “Teams without money can win games in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings,” he said.

The Kansas City Royals, 19th in payroll in Major League Baseball in 2014, are now the AL pennant winners and heading to their first World Series since 1985.

The last night I gave Bowden credit for anything in print, he called his mother.

That said, it doesn’t explain Charlie Manning, Mike Hinckley and Levale Speigner in the 2008 Nationals bullpen.

Once the pain of being swept subsides — and it was painful for Orioles fans, who saw their team as the city’s heroes, refusing to go down without a fight, only to see them not even win a game in the ALCS — satisfaction will take its place.

They can thank Washington, D.C., for that, since it was 60 years ago that the owner of the Washington Senators was kind enough to let Baltimore have a major league baseball franchise.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com.


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