Tables are being turned and power is being shifted in baseball. A revolution is upon us! How can it be different with the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals generally in contention all the time? Well, for starters, surprises and Cinderella stories that usually only entertain small-market fan bases overflow to the hearts of a nation. Watch, you’ll see a lot more Cleveland Indians’ fans this year.
Secondly, three curses have been broken this century (Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and Chicago Cubs). Sure, three curses in a span of twelve years doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but it really is when these hexes lasted for a 100 years (give or take). It’s similar to how the world has progressed so much in the last couple centuries or so even though civilization has been around for thousands of years (maybe, I’m not very good at ratios and other forms of math). Things happen in relative bunches, people. Apparently, there’s no in between for society though. They either focus on the bad times in the past or the leftovers of the present or the smaller issues everyone seems to think everyone else cares about. Can’t we just praise what we’ve accomplished in such a short time or is it just not good enough? Protestors with nothing better to do and sports fans can agree on something: it’s just not good enough for some reason (imagine that as a chant).
The Baltimore Orioles are a franchise looking to return to glory and they’ve been flirting with that accomplishment the last few years. If you're an Orioles' fan, you probably think that Jeffrey Maier cursed the franchise on October 9th, 1996, making Derek Jeter a household name in the process. Stupid jerk kid (who is now an adult).
1983 doesn’t seem that long ago, but it was. Dang it, I was born in 1982 so that means I’m old (and an adult as well, kind of). Here’s a look at the organization’s 10 worst and 10 best players since that ’83 championship team.
20 20. WORST: EVEN-YEAR CHRIS DAVIS
2012, 2014, and 2016 were not the best of seasons for Chris Davis. I mean, sure, he belted 97 home runs and drove in 241 batters in those three years combined, but let’s take a look at the two biggest problems here: Adderall and $161 Million. In 2014, Davis was suspended 25 games for testing positive for a banned substance that Adderall contains – the ADHD drug he claimed was the culprit. When you finish the season batting .196, I’m pretty sure the medicine wasn’t doing its job and you probably didn’t need it in the first place, Chris. After the 2015 season, Davis was offered the largest contract in Baltimore Orioles’ history at 7 years, $161 million, and his follow-up campaign to prove his worth fell well short in 2016 as he set a career high in strikeouts with 219. I think contracts need to be restructured to the point where the player should give money back if they fail to meet their agent-touted lofty expectations.
19 19. BEST: ODD-YEAR CHRIS DAVIS
Well, this is awkward. I didn’t think you two Chris Davises would run into each other on this list. Who would have thought? The 2013 and 2015 versions of Chris Davis were incredible. He almost achieved the triple crown in 2013 if it weren’t for Miguel Cabrera recording the best batting average, and his 2015 performance earned him that aforementioned massive contract. Davis had 100 home runs and 255 RBI between those two seasons. Now, if patterns are truly a thing, then Baltimore Orioles’ fans should be expecting something pretty great this year. There’s really no excuse this season: he knows what not to take, the pressure of expectation has been lifted, and it’s an odd year. Also, luckily for Davis, the new chewing tobacco ban that MLB issued doesn’t affect him because he was grandfathered in for continuous use. It’s not like we’re being superstitious here or anything (we are), but maybe he needs a stretched cheek full of chew to concentrate. Not the help of Adderall though, of course.
18 18: WORST: CURT SCHILLING
Baseball buffs are aware that Curt Schilling was once a Baltimore Oriole. They’re also aware that he was in the Boston Red Sox system before then and well before the bloody sock. He made his major league debut for Baltimore in 1988 after being traded along with Brady Anderson (who is on this list, but you're forbidden to skip ahead) from the Red Sox in exchange for Mike Boddicker. He was pretty bad in Baltimore his first two seasons, but when given quality opportunities to shine in 1990, he posted a reputable 2.54 ERA in 35 appearances. With great progression comes great value… to other teams. That’s the Orioles’ way of thinking. Schilling became a Houston Astro for one year, then blossomed as a Philadelphia Phillie, then won the World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and then helped break the curse in Boston. Here’s a gross note: Schilling’s 2004 bloody sock went for $92,613 at an auction. Those could have been Oriole championships; that could have been Baltimore’s gross bloody sock.
17 17. BEST: BUCK SHOWALTER
I think managers can be considered players because they wear a uniform as well. I think it’s a little odd, but they even have a number. They could just tear off that shiny polyester jacket and step into the batter’s box if they wanted to. Why not? They have access to the lineup card. Buck Showalter has meant a great deal to the Baltimore Orioles franchise since he was named manager during the second half of 2010. At that time, Baltimore had the worst record in baseball. By 2012, the Orioles were back in the postseason, and since have the most wins in the AL, claiming the 2014 AL East title in the process. This is Showalter’s M.O.: building bad teams into contenders in a short amount of time. If he has a flaw, it’s that he decides to leave prior to those respective teams winning the World Series – the 1996 New York Yankees and 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks being the examples. Now, the question is, if the Orioles want to win the World Series should he resign, or is this the time he finally gets his ring? Tough call – bring in the manager.
16 16. WORST: BILL RIPKEN
What’s in a family name? Everything apparently. In 1987, Bill Ripken (pictured left) played alongside his brother, some dude named Cal, and they were managed by their father, some dude also named Cal. Well, it didn’t last long, but who can really admit they would enjoy working with family? Cal Sr. was fired in 1988 and Billy boy batted a whopping .207 in his first full season that year. During his six-year tenure with the Baltimore Orioles, Bill hit just 13 home runs and recorded 148 RBI. Remember Chris Davis’ stats from earlier? I sure hope so. Even even-year Davis had more than that, and almost in one season. This is nothing against Bill, he was a solid defenseman, but one could assume he was given the opportunity due to his surname. Wait, my apologies, he did return to Baltimore and added two more homeruns and 12 more RBI in 1996. So, you know, that changes everything.
15 15. BEST: BRIAN ROBERTS
From one second baseman to another – Brian Roberts would be higher on this list if it weren’t for two reasons. Reason first: the steroid allegations (you’ll discover that Baltimore Orioles like to do that kind of stuff as the list goes on). Reason second: he signed with the New York Yankees after his career in Baltimore ended. Geez, this is starting to sound like he doesn’t belong on the best side of things. Let’s focus on the positive: 13 seasons in Baltimore, two All-Star appearances, a reliable defensive presence, a speedy base runner, and a consistent leadoff hitter who got on base. Even better, he was a horrible Yankee. Maybe that was his plan all along? With that being said, he probably didn’t even take that “one shot of steroids.” Maybe? It’s all a bunch of he-said he-said B.S. when it comes to performance-enhancers anyway… it’s all fun and games until someone gets drug-tested though.
14 14. WORST: VLADIMIR GUERRERO
When news broke of Vladimir Guerrero signing a deal with the Baltimore Orioles, fans rejoiced. He was a fantastic Montreal Expo (remember them?), an equally great Los Angeles Angel, and even made the All-Star game in his lone season with the Texas Rangers. He represented three different franchises in the All-Star game! Guerrero was coming off a season in Texas where he batted .300, hit 29 home runs, and drove in 115 runners – and he was supposed to be considered a tad washed-up. Well, he proved that in Baltimore in 2011 when he posted stats of .290/13/63. It was one of his worst seasons as a major leaguer – just better than 1997 when he only played in 90 games for the Expos – and it turned out to be his last. He was a nine-time All-Star, an MVP, a future Hall-of-Famer, and a pretty awful Oriole. At least it was cool that he didn’t wear batting gloves, but what does that get you these days? A handful of splinters and landing on a worst list.
13 13. BEST: MELVIN MORA
Since Melvin Mora was a quality third-baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, I feel as if I should put out a disclaimer: Manny Machado is not on this list (great, thanks for ruining the rest of the article, Carl) because Orioles’ fans are still unsure of his future after the 2017 season. Can they afford him? Will he be loyal? If so, then he will be high on this list next year. However, this right now is about Mora who played in Baltimore for 10 seasons. He was a two-time All-Star during his stint and is a member of the Baltimore Orioles’ Hall of Fame. He was as consistent as they came defensively and offensively and was a fan-favorite at Camden Yards. However, it was his personal life and perseverance that truly earned the respect of baseball fans, for the Venezuelan witnessed his father being murdered at just six years of age, and later on in life, his wife gave birth to quintuplets. They happily still live in Maryland – hopefully he has a good retirement from baseball to take care of all of them.
12 12. WORST: SAMMY SOSA
You know who was even more disappointing than Vladimir Guerrero? Well, this is pretty anti-climactic because it’s obviously Sammy Sosa. In 2005, The slugger was coming off his seventh All-Star selection, and though his numbers were declining, fans still believed he could produce. In a way, he did, posting a .221 average, hitting 14 home runs, and accounting for 45 RBI: his worst season since 1992 when he only played in 67 games. It was a tough year for Sosa and the fans' high expectations quickly turned to disappointment once again has the team finished fourth in the division and collected their eighth consecutive losing season – that’s impressive in a way, I guess. It was sad because they were progressing, and adding Sosa to a lineup that also had Rafael Palmeiro provided hope. Hope is provided every four years in that region of the country, and people complain about that situation all the time, too.
11 11. BEST: ADAM JONES
Adam Jones is on this list because Erik Bedard had such a great season in 2007 – so great that the Seattle Mariners were willing to give up Jones and Chris Tillman amongst others to acquire Bedard. Since then, Jones has been the face of the franchise for the last nine seasons, reaching five All-Star games, earning four Gold Gloves, and becoming a pillar in the Baltimore community off the field. Now, like Manny Machado, the Orioles have a difficult decision to make: Jones will become a free agent after the 2018 season, but if the team falters this year there’s a chance the great center fielder could be traded away. It will be a sad day when he leaves Baltimore, but he doesn’t have any intention to do so it seems because he loves the franchise, loves the fans, and loves his chances of achieving ultimate glory. Could this be the year? Orioles’ fans should hope because re-building is lurking around the corner.
10 10. WORST: RAFAEL PALMEIRO
Rafael Palmeiro spent five seasons in Baltimore from 1994-1998. Big whoop; plenty of players have spent four years as an Oriole. He then rejoined the franchise in 2004 for two more seasons because he wanted to retire as an Oriole, and if elected to the Hall of Fame, he would have liked to be inducted as an Oriole. Wait, shouldn’t he be on the best side of things? In his first four seasons in Baltimore he only failed once to eclipse 38 home runs and 100 RBI. That’s pretty impressive. Want to know something that makes things seem less impressive? Steroids, that’s the something. I get it, people age and players want to keep up with the youth. It’s kind of like an old fraternity brother who still thinks he can drink with the college kids. Sure, you can keep up in the moment, but you’re going to be in a lot more pain for a lot more time than them. After the PED allegations and teammate implications, Palmeiro was booed by his home crowd and his appreciation day was cancelled. That about sums up how the fans feel about him.
9 9. BEST: NICK MARKAKIS
There are some players who have statistically been better than Nick Markakis the last few decades for the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s hard to find one who was beloved more than the right fielder during his 2006-2014 tenure. He won two Gold Gloves, but never reached the All-Star game despite his great performances at the plate and in the field in 2007 and 2009. He was there for the worst of times and the best of times… and both at the same time. Having never been to the postseason during his career, the team finally reached the 2012 playoffs, but Markakis had fractured his thumb earlier and was unable to participate unless they had reached the World Series – obviously they didn’t. However, 2014 was different. I remember watching their division-clinching win on television and the stunned look of joy he had on his face while the fans went ballistic at Camden was an amazing moment. For a player who never reached the level of stardom as some others, his first game back to Oriole Park as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2015 he still received a tribute and a standing ovation. Queue the tears.
8 8. WORST: MIGUEL TEJADA
So remember when I mentioned that Rafael Palmeiro implicated another teammate to defend his non-steroid use claim? That player was Miguel Tejada who used steroids and lied to Congress about it. Who cares? Everyone lies to Congress. Even Congress lies to Congress. He was a good player in his prime, there’s no denying the fact, but was it because he had assistance? The pressure for him to become the next great Baltimore Orioles’ shortstop was probably pretty difficult to overcome – he had some big cleats to fill – so anything to give him an edge was needed. He was a three-time All-Star in Baltimore and in 2004 he drove in 150 runners. Now we know why I guess. When a player embarrasses himself like that, he also offends the franchise and cheats them out of what could have been. There are thousands of ballplayers out there who want to do things the right way and achieve their dreams – and they’re a thousand times better than cheaters no matter what the statistics say.
7 7. BEST: BRADY ANDERSON
Brady Anderson came to the Baltimore Orioles via trade from the Boston Red Sox. He was part of the Curt Schilling package. Though Schilling went on to have a stellar pitching career for other teams, Anderson remained an Oriole and became a franchise great. He played in Baltimore for 15 years from 1988-2001 and is in the Orioles’ Hall of Fame. He made it to three All-Star games, and ranks in the top ten in Baltimore’s history for at-bats, doubles, extra base hits, games, hits, home runs, RBI, runs, stolen bases, total bases, triples, and walks. I guess he had an impact if all those things matter. I mean, they’re all right, but was he a cool guy? You better believe it. He had some pretty sick sideburns going for a while. He was born in Maryland, he played in Maryland, and now he works in Maryland as Vice President of baseball operations for the Orioles. Not bad at all.
6 6. WORST: KEVIN GREGG
Kevin Gregg is mostly remembered for his incident with David Ortiz in 2011 when their altercation forced the benches to clear. However, many Orioles’ fans remember him for his poor performance and being an utter disappointment when arriving in Baltimore. He was coming off a 37-save season in Toronto in 2010 so the Orioles signed him to a two-year deal in 2011. Long story short, he didn’t make it the full length of his contract. Let’s just say is numbers decreased and increased in all the wrong places. Saves and strikeouts dropped, and hits, runs, home runs, walks, and ERA all amplified. The only thing worse is that it actually got worse in 2012 before Baltimore decided to designate him for assignment, eventually releasing the closer. I guess we can look at it this way: since he didn’t play the whole season he couldn’t ruin every game. They made the playoffs and it was probably thanks to him not being there.
5 5. Best: Mike Mussina
Despite signing with the hated New York Yankees in 2001, Mike Mussina is still one of the greatest Orioles of the past three and a half decades, and perhaps one of the greatest ever. The franchise seems to think so because he’s a member of Baltimore’s Hall of Fame. During his tenure in Baltimore (1991-2000) He reached five All-Star games as a starter for the Orioles and was also a four-time Gold-Glover, adding three more fielding recognitions while in New York. Baltimore fans were a tad hurt when Mussina decided to sign with a rival to increase his chances of winning a World Series, so when he reached the championship twice and lost both times, it was kind a bittersweet feeling for Orioles’ fans. It’s like you’re glad he failed in a that’s-what-you-deserve kind of way, but also you secretly wanted him to succeed in a that’s-what-you-deserve kind of way. Oh, the turmoil of fandom.
4 4. WORST: GLENN DAVIS
So remember when Curt Schilling was traded from the Orioles and then went on to have an awesome career? Well he went to Houston with Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch in exchange for one Glenn Davis. Now, I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but this is pretty much one of the worst moves in Baltimore’s franchise history. It was 1991, Davis was set to bring his power to Baltimore and everything was about to turn around for the better. Well, he suffered a nerve injury in spring training and didn’t play until August. Okay, we’ll give him that, things happen. So it was 1992, Davis was set to bring his power to Baltimore and everything was about to turn around. It was fairly disappointing. So it was 1993, Davis was set to bring his power to Baltimore and everything was about to turn around. He batted .177 (that’s right, .177) with 1 (that’s right, 1) home run and 9 (that’s right, 9) RBI in 30 (that’s right, 30) games. I’m glad I don’t have to repeat myself anymore.
3 3. BEST: EDDIE MURRAY
You know how people get Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicholson mixed up? Well, the same goes for Eddie Murray and Eddie Murphy. Anyway, since you’re reading a sports article you probably don’t get them mixed up as much as common folk do. Eddie Murray was an outstanding baseball player; he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003 and has his number retired in Baltimore. He played 12 seasons with the Orioles, including their World Series year of 1983. Wow, so the championship does exist. Seven times he was an All-Star while in Baltimore, and once with the Los Angeles Dodgers after he left the team. He returned to the Orioles in 1996 to hit his 500th home run on September 6th (remember that day, trust me). Steady Eddie was an Oriole great, and baseball great, and you know what, he probably was a pretty funny guy too just like Jack Nicholson is probably also a good golfer. Don’t waste your time researching either.
2 2. WORST: DICKIE NOLES
The 1988 Baltimore Orioles were the worst team in franchise history statistically. Since we’re looking for the worst Oriole since 1983, we have to look on the roster of that team, and what position do baseball fans blame the most when things are going wrong? The pitcher. Dickie Noles started two games for the Orioles that season, losing both, posting an ERA of 24.30. If you aren’t familiar with how earned run average is calculated, it’s determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and then multiplying it by nine. (ER/IP) x 9 for all you math freaks, so if you’re bored, have fun with that formula. I’m sure Dickie is a great guy, in fact, he’s so great that he’s one of four players in history to actually be traded for himself. Weird, right? As a member of the Chicago Cubs he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for “a player to be named later” and 33 days after the fact, he was that player. Which team got the worst deal then?
1 1. BEST: CAL RIPKIN JR.
Who else would it be and what else can we say? You haven’t said anything yet though. Oh. Cal Ripken Jr. won Rookie of the Year in 1982. In 1983 he was the AL MVP and a World Series champion, then he played a few more games and ended up being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and his number was retired by the Baltimore Orioles back in 2001. He holds 14 Oriole records and 10 MLB records, including one pretty famous one. On September 6th (told you to remember that day), 1995, Ripken set the all-time record for most consecutive games played with 2,131, breaking Lou Gehrig’s seemingly unbreakable record in one of the most memorable moments in sports history. Of course, in you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up fashion, Ripken hit a home run during the fourth inning of that game. Even thinking of the moment gives me chills. The standing ovation lasted 22 minutes. I can’t even get someone to think about liking me for that long. When he retired in 2001, he went out in style, earning the All-Star MVP, his second in 19 appearances. His third inning home run during that game was also something you can’t make up. What a career, what a player, what an Oriole.
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