Cumberland Times-News

Mike Burke - Sports

August 16, 2012

It’s the truth then, it’s the truth about then now

If you listen to ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” you heard Leo Mazzone on Wednesday and then you heard Mike and Mike talking about Leo Mazzone’s comments for the rest of Wednesday’s show; then for most of Thursday’s.

Essentially, the pitching coach-turned-Leo Mazzone was asked to weigh in on the Washington Nationals’ decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg to alleviate risk on his surgically repaired elbow. Anybody who was listening and who knows Leo Mazzone and his belief that the arm, like any other muscle, only becomes stronger with activity, knew what was coming and how it would come.

“I think it’s absolutely pathetic, to be honest with you,” he said. “If I’m Strasburg, here’s what I’m saying, I’m saying, ‘You take the ball away from me and I’ll save my arm for some other team to pitch for.’ ... I think it’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Since I knew what was coming I didn’t even have to open my eyes. What I actually thought was more interesting was when Leo was asked of the turmoil that is Bobby Valentine and his band of Boston Red Sox misfits. And as soon as Leo said, “It all starts at the top. It’s called the chain of command,” I opened my eyes. I knew where he was taking us.

“With the chain of command,” he said, “I have experience with both ends of it. When I was with the Atlanta Braves, there was a chain of command that was in place that was never broken. It was never broken by the players. It started with ownership, with Ted Turner. Then it started with the general manager, John Schuerholz, the manager, Bobby Cox, and the coaching staff and the players. So you had a chain of command that was never broken.”

And then?

“Then I go to Baltimore and find out why they’re losing. The chain of command was always broken, where players got to voice their displeasure to the front office, which took away the power from the manager and nobody really knew who was running what. Basically, what it was, was a bunch of players finding excuses for losing. This is what’s going on (in Boston right now).”

Now Leo Mazzone doesn’t need anybody speaking for him. That much has been clear since ... I don’t know ... the day he was born? But before Orioles fans out there get their boxers in a bunch about “Then I go to Baltimore and find out why they’re losing,” I think Rhett Butler said it best when he said, “I have a strange way of not killing people who tell the truth.”

Leo was merely talking about the past in the present tense. That’s how he talks. And, trust me, having been in that Orioles clubhouse, circa 2006-07, quite a bit myself, I can attest that Leo Mazzone was also telling the truth.

Keep in mind this was two Orioles front office regimes ago. What took place then is not what’s taking place now, and it shows in the win-loss column. The culture of the Orioles is far different than it was when manager Sam Perlozzo and Mazzone entered the gunfight unarmed, with Sam proving to be the most vulnerable as the manager of a team that was being run by an ineffective two-headed entity — Jim Duquette and the late Mike Flanagan.

The responsibility for that mess, naturally, fell on ownership, for it is impossible to know what you’re doing when you have two bosses to serve. Or, in the case of those Orioles, one to constantly run to with your whiny complaints.

“Mike (Flanagan) knew what the Orioles organization was all about because he came up through the organization when it was the best in baseball,” Mazzone said close to a year ago when Flanagan died. “He knew what once made the Orioles great, he knew what caused them to go downhill and he knew what it would take to get things turned in the right direction.

“He knew what the Orioles were up against and they would have been better off letting Mike run it by himself instead of having Jim Duquette in there too. Go ahead and let Mike run it himself.”

If Leo Mazzone is bitter about anything Baltimore, it would likely be over what happened to Sam Perlozzo, not him. When he says he’s moved on, he’s moved on. I believe that now, just as I did two years ago when the Orioles hired manager Buck Showalter and Leo said, “Buck and I were together at the 2000 All-Star Game and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s a great hire for the Orioles. He’ll get it turned around and I hope he does. He’s a good man. The Orioles really helped themselves. A great, great hire.

“They’re going to win under Buck. I guarantee it.”

Hey, don’t kill the man for telling the truth.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at

Text Only
Mike Burke - Sports
  • Terps need to move and move quickly

    The good news is Maryland will never have to play another basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Goodbye, good riddance, sayonara, smell ya, no more of you, stay classy, we won’t let the door hit us on the way out.
    Until we see you in court.

    April 13, 2014

  • Then again, he’s manager of the Yankees, and I’m not

    I went to bed confused Wednesday night, which in itself is nothing new. But having
    watched most of the Orioles-Yankees game, including the final three innings, earlier
    in the evening, then watching the late Baseball Tonight before I turned in, I was under the impression that the Yankees had won the game when I was pretty sure before watching the show that the Orioles had won.

    April 11, 2014

  • At times we all should allow for a little flex

    Other than when I was a student in the Allegany County Public Schools System, I’ve always believed the most thankless job there is — or at least one of the most thankless jobs there is — belongs to the person who ultimately hits the switch on whether or not to call off school because of the weather. You’re slammed if you do, you’re slammed if you don’t. No matter what you decide it’s no win, but, like managing a baseball team or running a bar, everybody knows they could do it.

    January 11, 2014

  • A treasured member of the family of baseball

    When a former professional football player from our past dies, he is most often remembered as being one tough son of a gun, or a wonderful runner or pass catcher, or as a brilliant quarterback.

    January 10, 2014

  • Bob Giffin believed in the goodness of us all

    The first time the Giffin family exploded onto my radar was at a Fort Hill basketball game years ago in the old Fort Hill gym. Believe it was a City game, which meant the place was packed, the walls were sweating and the smell of popcorn permeated the atmosphere. And through it all marched the family Giffin in perfect formation, tallest in the front, shortest in the back, led by father Lew, mother Donna, oldest son Bob, second son Tom, third son Donnie and fourth son Johnnie.

    December 28, 2013

  • Redskins do that voodoo that they do so well

    This time last year the Washington Redskins were in the midst of a seven-game winning streak on their way to the NFC East title. Mike Shanahan was being hailed as the perfect football presence the franchise had sorely needed for so long. Quarterback Robert Griffin III in the sprint option was being hailed as the single greatest invention since the wheel, and beleaguered Daniel Snyder, the little owner who couldn’t, was being hailed for not even trying as he allowed his two-time Super Bowl winning coach and lord of all things football to pull the strings on all things football.

    December 13, 2013

  • Fort Hill’s approach is all-inclusive

    After Fort Hill opened everybody’s eyes last season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year (*1), it was a pretty sure bet that the Sentinels, given all of their returning resources, would be making a run for the state championship this year (*2).

    December 6, 2013

  • What resource will the O’s allocate next?

    In November 1993, Dan Duquette, then the general manager of the Montreal Expos, traded second baseman Delino DeShields to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a young pitcher by the name of Pedro Martinez. According to a story in last Sunday’s New York Times, upon completing the deal, Duquette, now general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, told Neal Huntington, then a member of the Expos front office and now the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, “This trade is going to be hated in Montreal.”

    December 4, 2013

  • No month of Sundays this Friday

    With Fort Hill comfortably in control Friday night in its eventual 46-7 1A West Region semifinal victory over Manchester Valley, and with score updates from the other semifinal pouring in from nearby Washington County, Greenway Avenue Stadium was abuzz, for the unthinkable was about to take place — Fort Hill was going to play Hancock.

    November 16, 2013

  • Mike Burke Ty Johnson works hard, and makes it look easy

    Any summer day you might go to Greenway Avenue Stadium to get a little exercise you are likely to see any number of high school athletes there working out — football players, soccer players, basketball players, any kind of player you might want to think of.

    November 9, 2013 1 Photo