Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I was watching the Baltimore Orioles play the other morning. (East coast day games start at midnight here in Bangkok. Our TV games usually start at 6 AM. That would be a west coast night game.) Their shortstop, Miguel Tejada, failed to hustle on two hits. Both hits should have been doubles but, because he loafed on the way to first, he was held to singles.

Miguel Tejada is, on paper, one of the most valuable players in the game. He is a slick fielder at the most important defensive position and he hits like the better outfielders. At 12 million a year, he might be considered underpaid when compared to other players. He is only thirty years old and a sure bet for the Hall of Fame.

But what do you do when your star player doesn’t hustle? One of those plays cost the Orioles a run in a close game with a contender. There is nothing the field manager can do. It’s like tying to handle a 400 pound gorilla. That one game might not be representative of how he has been playing, but according to the TV analysts it was.

The front office was trying to trade him before the July 31 deadline. His lack of hustle might be why they couldn’t make a deal. Not many teams want a 400 pound gorilla on their roster, at least one they can’t handle.

Before the season the Orioles looked like a contender. They had a hard hitter at every infield position and had brought in a pitching coach from Atlanta who was reputed to be the best in the game. One problem: They also brought a high profile, expensive catcher when they already had a high profile, expensive catcher. That seemed kind of wacky. It turned out to be a problem. Big surprise. They recently had to trade one and cash for a prospect.

So Baltimore is far out of the race. Perhaps that resulted in Tejada’s lack of hustle, or perhaps his lack of hustle was one of the reasons. I don’t know. I do know I wouldn’t want him on my team.


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