Monday's 7 a.m. SportsCenter featured a segment just as I was waking up where Yankee media child Buster Olney reported he expected the Orioles to drop out of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes "later this week," but didn't base it on anything other than the fact the Yankees might get involved which would push his price even higher.
Even more insulting is he left the Washington Nationals, who have never signed a significant free agent in their entire existence-one that goes back to the Montreal Expos, on the list as more viable contenders for the slugger's services than his hometown O's.
We know Baltimore homers like Ken Rosenthal are so disgusted with the O's perpetual lack of activity we shouldn't take them seriously, as I believe is being the case here. Until they actually show us something, say a major signing, or gradual improvement on the field, what reason to we have to believe that things have changed?
It should come to no surprise when today Olney, no doubt with a Christmas-morning-like attitude, gleefully wrote the following article "updating" everyone at ESPN—the O's were "likely falling behind" in the Mark Teixeira derby.
After rambling through Tex's 2008 stats, he adds this perhaps in an attempt to cover his own @#%, should Teixeira actually choose to sign with the Orioles:
"The only way the Orioles can be considered a serious player for Teixeira now, sources say, would be if the Maryland native were to take their offer, which is believed to be for seven years and about $150 million.
"The Orioles are out of it, unless Teixeira really, really wants to play there," said one source."
See this is based on simple, non-measurable fan information we have to assume since we as outsiders can't actually check the facts and isn't based on anything. Olney knows this so he's free to write whatever he wants with no qualms and it sounds good to boot.
Its like when a manager claims a certain bench player is a real "locker room leader" or "he's a real scrappy, team player."
What does that really mean?
Better yet, how are we as casual fans, supposed to know or judge it? It's just fluff being passed off by the media and we soak it all in as fact. I.E. "Yeah now I see why the Twins re-signed "super utility man Nick Punto for two years and $8.5M...."
Unless Mark actually comes out of his black and orange clad press conference and offers the following statement, we'll never know:
"There are so many reasons I wanted to come to Baltimore. I grew up here and after playing in Texas, my collegian state of Georgia, and California, I felt it was in my best interests to be playing at home in front of my friends and family and you can't put a price on that."
In a previous column I wrote on the Mark Teixeira to Baltimore rumors, I noted you indeed can't put a price on playing in front of the hometown crowd, something Mark would be able to do for the rest of his career, as this likely would be his last contract signing.
Without going through all the reasons again, but rather summing them up, if Teixeira would have wanted to re-sign with the Angels or Texas he'd have done so already. This leads me to believe that the Angels are out of it.
1. Mark would have to play the rest of his career 3,000 miles away from home and as much fun as it may be to fly family members four time zones across a nation at their will, or to buy them a premium second or third home for them to use when they are in town for a series or two, its not the same as following them from the park they attended when he was younger, where all his memories are, and being able to sleep in their own beds each night.
If he didn't even re-sign with his collegiate state team, the Braves, he ain't gonna go back to LAA where he has no ties. Am I the only one who sees this?
2. Teixeira has a chance to be an Oriole legend like Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, and Jim Palmer—not just another Yankee or Red Sox tacked up on a wall with a bronze plaque in Monument park.
3. Teixeira surely doesn't forget how the Red Sox brass treated him upon drafting him out of high school in 1998 when they allegedly lied about Teixeira's interest in going to college instead of signing so that other teams would shy away. Although the Sox got their man (in the ninth round at a "discount" price, the plan failed since it left a sour taste-hopefully to this day, in the mouth's of the Teixeira family.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Tex is probably going to wait until December 22-23 before signing with the O's so he can surprise his family with the perfect Christmas gift.
Yes that means you, Mr. Olney, take notice. Mark is not just another player flirting with the team in order to drive his price further like we've seen in the past from Carlos Delgado to Vladamir Guerrero to Paul Konerko.
He's a hometown boy dammit and I bet, that despite your dismissive attitude, he will give the O's every opportunity to match, or at least come close to any offer he gets from another team before he is forced to sign somewhere else (i.e Boras will keep the O's especially updated on what the Sox latest offer is and it will be up to them to adjust accordingly). I bet the O's will also ultimately get right of first refusal.
If you can't see it then you aren't looking hard enough. Isn't it the least bit curious to you why the O's are still in this race despite being a non-competitive team for over a decade? There is a reason. Guerrero, Konerko, or Delgado didn't have home state ties.
Olney said it best himself on the Thursday December 11 edition of ESPN2's MLB Winter Meetings coverage that Teixeira could take an offer similar to the one Alex Rodriguez did in 2000 from the last place, non-playoff Texas Rangers or more viable contenders. We've seen it before and we could see it again.
John Kruk was asked by Karl Ravech what he (Kruk) would think if Teixeira were to take such an offer from a team like the Orioles, and Kruk quickly responded with "It would tell me he plays the game of baseball for money over a chance to win." He proceeded to rip the Nationals by stating the obvious that they are "at least four to five years away from contending," and that it would be similarly stupid for him to go there.
How is playing the game for money as Teixeira would supposedly be doing, any different from Sabathia taking the highest offer from the Yankees and signing there when it was painfully obvious (and hysterical I might add) by several media reports he'd much rather stay at home in California?
How would that be any different than any other free agent that signs anywhere in any sport if money is their motivating factor?
They can't seem to realize that this is beyond just money. Its about home, family, and the ability to play in a stadium where you attended as a youth, saw your heroes, have the greatest memories, and being able to play in front of long lost friends, teachers, community leaders, and anyone else who helped Mark get where he is today. It ain't that difficult of a concept, fellas.
Since it always comes down to the old "he'll be pressured by the Union to take the highest offer," what does that mean if the offer allegedly comes from a team like the Nationals (who at last check, did have the highest offer on the table? (8/$160M believed to be matched by the Angels but I am telling you he ain't staying there. He has no ties to CA, the region, or the West).
According to Washington Post reports, the Nationals seem to believe that no news is bad news when it comes to their offer which should make sense considering this team didn't even exist when Teixeira was a kid. Given the choice of either Mid-Atlantic team, which one do you think he'd go with, especially if, you know, it was "all about money"? If he takes the O's seemingly shorter (but bigger annually) offer of 7/$150M he can become a free agent one year sooner and cash in again on one last contract.
Despite what Olney, Kruk, and every big market pawn wants to believe, I will believe until he signs the dotted line with Red Sox letterhead on it, Teixeira has a better chance to come home where he belongs than to join a team as a hired gun where he will be appreciated as such.
5:38PM UPDATE: Andy MacPhail claims O's offer is flexible and only the "initial offer" thus refuting O's-hater Olney's premature (and wishful claims).