Before the baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas began, I read many Orioles message boards, from MLB.com, to ESPN.com, to the daily updates in publications of the Baltimore Sun.
The fans seem divided on Mark Teixeira. They want him to come home, but they are leery that he would actually accept their offer.
I've written about it. Many fans doubted (and for good reason) that Teixeira would consider coming home, so rather than go through that heartache, many chose to write him off to the Yankees, Angels, or another perennial big spender like the Red Sox.
Current Angels slugger Mark Teixeira is a native of Severna Park, Md., approximately 29 miles from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
He attended Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore. Rumors have it that owner Peter Angelos has been following the career of Teixeira from this point forward and basically fell in love with the player.
Mark grew up an Orioles fan and attended Cal Ripken's record-breaking 2,131st game. Keep in mind, that was back on September 6, 1995 the day this record was broke Teixeira would have been 15 years old.
While I understand that a ticket to this game was probably the hottest in town, the fact he made the effort to attend the game, and delivered, should say something.
Something tells me if there is one player who would consider going home despite his team's 10-year track record at missing the playoffs its Teixeira. You can't put a price on playing in front of the home crowd, something he'd be able to do for the rest of his career.
In taking some poster's arguments from visited message boards:
1. If he'd wanted to sign an extension in Texas or Los Angeles, he'd have done so already.
The fact that he didn't should prove noteworthy in the eyes of O's fans. I'd also like to add the same can be said for the Atlanta Braves whom I heard the same "hometown" arguments as a graduate of Georgia Tech, many fans in Georgia thought for sure he would sign there.
2. If he re-signs with the Los Angeles Angels, he's basically telling his family that for the rest of his career, they better be able to stay up until at least 1AM to watch his games on the West Coast.
You also have to consider the distance factor. Sure at $160 million to $200 million or whatever he gets, he could fly them cross-country to nearly every game. He could buy them a house or two in Orange County for them to use at their leisure.
But that's inconvenient and not the same as being able to watch the team they all grew up watching at home and going to sleep in their own bed or fraternizing with their lifelong friends.
(You don't think they've been talking to him for the past year or so about this? What about his childhood friends, teachers, community leaders all of whom would love to see him come back home?)
3. Teixeira has a chance to be an Oriole legend rather than just another Yankee or Red Sox who, when he retires, no one will remember, at least not as fondly.
He has a chance to be in the same conversation as Cal Ripken Jr, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Frank Robinson, and Eddie Murray to name a few. Sure Yankee fans have Monument Park and the Red Sox slap retired players numbers up on a wall but how many actually remember who wore that number?
Many fans have been saying that these Oriole legends from their glory days should all place calls to Mark personally telling them how great it would be for him to come home. I agree but I have one more suggestion:
Teixeira should corroborate with current free agent pitchers like Jon Garland, Paul Byrd, and Brad Penny and agree to all sign on the same day in one mass press conference.
That way, no one can back out and Tex isn't standing there days later wondering if Angelos will keep his word and if help will indeed come like Tejada did.
We've seen joint press conferences before with the Boston Trio last year in the NBA, or Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill in 2000 with the Orlando Magic, so why not here and now?
Granted many see Garland or Byrd as "only" No. 4 or No. 5 starters, but you have to consider the O's need everything and aside from Jeremy Guthrie and Garrett Olsen to some extent, no one else has shown nearly the same promise. I think a Penny/Garland/Guthrie/Byrd/Olsen rotation would do fine, and considering they just cast away junk like Daniel Cabrera, the 2008 version of Rodrigo Lopez, they have spots open.
We Orioles fans all agree that Teixeira needs a commitment from Peter Angelos, Andy McPhail and Co. that the O's will be, and strive to remain contenders for the long term.
We've seen Angelos fail to deliver on this "promise" to the last significant free agent this organization has signed in Miguel Tejada. They promised to get him pitching help but never did.
They cannot (and I don't believe they will) make this same mistake twice. Angelos knows what a public relations nightmare it would be if he lets this hometown boy slip through his fingers only to have him sign with the inter league rival Washington Nationals.
If he thinks 12,000 tickets is bad now, he'd have to endure that for the rest of his business career as fans would stay away in droves. They've already tried the blackout games where 3,000 fans or so organized a walk out (albeit to much failure).
At the risk of sounding cheesy, today is Dec. 13, exactly 12 days before Christmas. Without actually singing "on the 12th day of Christmas O's management gave to me, one hometown slugger"..I would not be surprised if Teixeira is staging his press conference and big announcement sentimentally closer to Christmas day as some sort of a Christmas gift to his family and friends.
He can't very well wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day since if he wants to get maximum publicity as well as allowing the media to speculate and evaluate on his decision many of them will be away for the holiday.
I'd predict something more manageable like December 22 or 23. Its just too perfect and it makes just too much sense.
If O's rivals are wondering why the heck he would risk playing in a terrible market and a division where his new team would have no chance consider Angelos love for this player.
Does he really want to sit back and watch him suffer as his career is withered away in mediocrity? Chances are he knows the Teixeira's very closely and promised like he's never promised anyone else not to make that same mistake.
Let's look at the final four contenders: Angels (discussed above), Nationals, O's, and Red Sox.
Washington:What incentive does Tex have to sign with the Nationals other than the fact they have, so far surprisingly, offered the most money reported at 8/$160M?
They weren't even a team when he was growing up. More importantly, they weren't his team.
For them to swoop in based simply on location is an insult to Tex himself and also O's fans who have a legitimate case. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see teams like this instead of the same tired old Chicago, LA, and New York teams make legit offers.
Red Sox: The Red Sox don't need him as they'd have to get rid of one of Mike Lowell or Kevin Youkilis just to make room for Mark. That means they better have been negotiating deals weeks ago-say earlier this week about this scenario.
My guess is they are just trying to drive his price up for the O's or trying to counter the Yankees but if his heart isn't in Boston it won't matter anyway.
Don't think they won't remember this treatment. It's supposedly the whole reason he took the full ride to Georgia Tech and eight years later will hopefully come back to bite them in their spoiled, elitist asses.
So that leaves the O's as the sentimental favorite.
Hey Mark, give me a reason to buy an Orioles Fathead with your likeness for Christmas. That is what I want, and I've got a few bare walls waiting for just this reason.