I might be confused, but I’m pretty sure what I eat this morning determines whether a Boston sportswriter has to skip breakfast.
All of us in the press box who cover the Orioles were in agreement that last night’s ending made up for a lot of the aggravation, frustration and heartache of a 14th consecutive losing season. The three straight two-out hits off Boston closer and face contortionist Jonathan Papelbon. The wild celebration between second and third, with Robert Andino leaping in the air like a little kid and teammates pouncing on him like he was a fumble. And Andino snapping at the air with his right arm on his way to the dugout, as if to direct Boston fans to the nearest exits.
I’m pretty sure he said, “Go home,” if my lip-reading skills aren’t in decline.
Then he broke out one of the best lines of the year, and it came after the 162nd game.
“End of season like this, (to) make Boston go home sad, crying. I’ll take it all day.”
Andino is one of those players who grows on you. Nobody improved more on this team, and nobody believed in him more strongly than manager Buck Showalter, who pushed to have him included on last September’s expanded roster after other members of the organization had given up on him.
It was surreal to glance at one of the press box televisions to my right minutes after Andino’s game-winner, and see another wild celebration unfolding at Tropicana Field. The Rays had just beaten the Yankees on Evan Longoria’s walk-off home run in the 12th to officially eliminate the Red Sox from the wild card race.
The scene continued to play out on the Camden Yards video board, leaving Boston fans with their jaws scraping the wet concrete.
If not for a 1 hour, 26 minute rain delay in Baltimore, those two games wouldn’t have ended almost simultaneously.
And let’s not forget how the Braves completed their collapse by losing to the Phillies in 13 innings and allowing the Cardinals to win the NL wild card.
Has there ever been a better night of baseball?
I’m anticipating a much quieter and relaxed day today, which usually comes back to bite me.
I wrote yesterday that Showalter said “no firm decision” has been made regarding a possible change in duties in 2012. I asked whether it’s his decision or he’s waiting for someone else to make it.
I didn’t get a response.
The answer might have come when Showalter mentioned how he needed to fly home Friday and talk it over with his family.
I spend so much time reading between the lines, I should wear special prescription glasses.
At least one prominent member of the organization suggests that Showalter replace Andy MacPhail as president of baseball operations. Showalter has heard from others who think he’s more valuable in the dugout.
This much I know: The final decision will come in October. It won’t drag out for months.
The Orioles have a lot of work to do over the winter and they want to get started as quickly as possible. And what happens to Showalter could potentially impact his coaching staff. He doesn’t want to leave those guys hanging.
You can expect plenty of bodies to tumble off the 40-man roster. The lack of viable pitching and hitting options at Triple-A and Double-A won’t be tolerated any longer. The Orioles will sign their share of six-year minor league free agents.
Though I haven’t been given any names, I’m guessing that first baseman Brandon Snyder will come off the 40-man.
Corner infielder Billy Rowell, another former first-round pick, isn’t on the 40-man, and I don’t think he’ll be in this organization much longer. Look for Rowell to be sent packing.