I write a blog. Therefore, in accordance with the blog-writer’s association by-laws (article 1 section 8 clause 18) I must create a “list” of important moments at the close of a significant portion of time be it seasonal, annual or in increments of ten years colloquially called a “decade”. The end of the “aughts” is upon us and the last ten years of Orioles history has, well, not been kind. But I still feel there were significant enough moments to cobble together this list. This is not a “Best of” list, this is a different list filled with good and bad it is the Birdland’s 10 Most Important Moments of the Decade.
10) Baltimore Back on the Road Jerseys
Former Orioles owner Edgar Bennett Williams removed Baltimore from the Orioles road uniforms in 1973 in an effort to market the team as a regional entity since the Washington Senators flew the coop, for the second time, to Texas to become the Rangers. The Orioles won a World Series, made the playoffs, hosted an All-Star Game and sent many players to other All-Star Games without having Baltimore stitched across their chest.
As the Orioles went into severe decline after the 1997 season people began to clamor for the city’s name to return. Local shock jock sports hosts used the lack of the city on the front of the road-jerseys as some sort of deus-ex-machina to launch into misinformed ludicrous tirades against the team, and current owner Peter Angelos. But finally, after 35 years, the 2009 Orioles brought Baltimore back pleasing Oriole fans everywhere. The unveiling at the Gallery shopping mall in the Inner-Harbor saw 300 people attend current and former Orioles strut in the new threads. The best addition to the uniforms in my opinion was the circular patch on the right arm. On the white home-jersey it reads Baltimore Orioles in an orange ring around the Maryland Flag, it is a very sharp looking patch.
I personally love the Baltimore road script. I love my city and I love my team. The fact that I get to now combine the two effectively makes me a very happy man. This move made a ton of people happy it was the first step of a renewed community commitment under new General Manager Andy MacPhail and the Orioles Reach program. Put simply, it was the right thing to do.
9) Miguel Tejada Signed
After another disappointing season in 2003 the Orioles felt the need to finally break through. They saw their opportunity come during the Winter Meetings that year when dual GM’s Jim Beattie and, former Oriole, Mike Flanagan signed free agent All-Star Shortstop Miguel Tejada to a six-year $72 million deal.
Tejada was quickly a fan favorite. His first years in Baltimore were marked with outstanding play, a child-like love for the game and an infectious smile and attitude. He would finish fifth in MVP voting in 2004 when he posted 200+ hits and a league-leading 150 RBI.
Unfortunately, like most things in the last decade of Orioles baseball it did not work out. The Orioles front office was either unable or unwilling to surround Tejada with the pieces needed to make the team a real contender. In 2005 Tejada would get wrapped up in the Palmeiro steroid controversy and he was never really the same after.
Still the deal itself was an important move. It may not have worked out but it was a real attempt from the perceived stingy ownership to bring in elite talent to compete in the beastly AL East. It was a move that eventually failed and the Orioles would remain mired in the losing streak that plagues them to this day. But, for one glorious spring the Orioles played .600 ball and Miguel Tejada was not only the face of the franchise, but the face of baseball.
Stay tuned for numbers 8,7 and 6 were we will discuss three of the best individual performances and moments of the last ten years.