Cumberland Times-News

June 3, 2007

What have you done for them lately, Sam?

Omar Wessel, Cumberland

Dear Sirs:

I’ve been a baseball fan for 50 years. The Baltimore Orioles are my team. I’m also a fan of whichever team happens to be playing the Yankees. I’ve watched Major League Baseball change little by little over this period of time until I must confess, I no longer love the game.

It’s because of the usual reasons. And my list is long: the outrageous salaries, steroids, betting, agents, owners, ticket prices, the designated hitter rule, and about half-a-dozen other things. But the item at the very top of my list are the ballplayers themselves. Not all of them now, but a larger number then I’m happy with.

Let’s be honest, a very high percentage of major league athletes are jerks and always have been. As long as they’re not jerks to kids it’s fine with me. What really pulls my chain about the players is the fact that they are ungrateful and have very short memories. Their problem is that they forgot who got them where they are, or do remember and think they could have got there all on their own.

They say football is a game of inches, if that’s true than baseball is a game of nanoseconds and instincts. In football the quarterback handles this part of the game, in baseball every single player on the field must know instinctively what to do in every situation. They aren’t gifted with this knowledge, it’s taught to them by coaches from Little League to the pros.

The players who are athletic enough and smart enough to listen to their mentors may have a future, the ones who may be the best athletes but just can’t master the nuances will entertain the boys on the job or in a bar for years to come with his “I was this close” stories.

Sam Perlozzo, the manager for the Orioles, is, of course, from Cumberland. But he’s not the real reason for my little rant, he just happens to be the latest victim. You see, when a team isn’t playing well they begin to hunt in packs, like wolves. They usually single out the manager. He’s the reason they’re playing so poorly. I follow the Orioles all over the Internet, read all the newsgroups about them, and let me tell you folks ... they are tearing Sam apart. You want to know why? Because they’re listening to the “pack.”

Sam Perlozzo has been around Major League Baseball for his whole adult life. He knows more about those nanoseconds and instincts then this whole group of jokers combined. He’s been a great addition to the Orioles, and he knows this current crop very well. Whenever you see an infielder make a difficult play look routine ... that’s Sam. He spent a lot of time with that player. But remember their short memories.

Now it’s Melvin Mora telling the press that Sam was “rude,” or Tejada blaming his lack of range on Sam, or the real Benedict Arnold, cute little Brian Roberts, joining Gibbons and the rest of the “rat pack” trying to tear down an utterly decent guy, who just wanted to be a winning manager and a nice guy at the same time.

Sam’s only mistake was to set the bar too high. You can’t be a nice guy to these jerks, Sam.

I wish Davey Johnson on them.