After nine years on the Orioles beat, I've been handed the keys to my own sports blog. The ride won't always be smooth, especially the first few miles, and I have a tendency to become reckless behind the wheel – which allowed me to blend in perfectly with the Orioles. But it was time for a change. Nothing lasts forever, except for Sidney Ponson's attempts to recite the alphabet after a night of drinking.
I was given the option of remaining with the team as a consultant, but Jim Beattie didn't recommend it. I also could have become the bullpen coach. But such a move probably would have killed my chances of being a manager someday. At least, that's what Rick Dempsey told me.
Once I was informed of the Sun's plans to start this blog, I had only one question for my boss: What the heck is a blog? It sounds like something that requires a surgeon's scalpel and a biopsy. I have to admit, I don't usually read these things, but I'm hoping there are enough people out there who will. And feel free to join in, though I can't always promise that your responses will appear on my site. (Some free advice: Avoid any e-mails that include the word "sucks," unless you're referring to Kyle Boller).
I have to admit, I'll miss standing around the Orioles' clubhouse 3 ½ hours before the first pitch, realizing once again that there's way too much nudity in baseball. Would it kill these guys to grab a towel?
But where else could I witness Channel 13 sportscaster Stan Saunders, with microphone in hand, asking second baseman Brian Roberts why he decided to bat right-handed in the eighth inning after swinging from the left side earlier in the game? Rattled only for a brief moment, Roberts glanced at the other reporters and politely responded: "Um, because they brought in a left-handed pitcher." Spoken like a true switch-hitter.
I'll always appreciate the chance to watch, up close and personal, Rafael Palmeiro's smooth swings and Albert Belle's mood swings, which reminds me of B.J. Surhoff's classic response to a reporter's question about the dour left fielder being named Most Valuable Oriole by the media in 1999. "I know why you guys chose me," Surhoff said. "Cal's hurt and you guys hate Albert." Damn, he saw right through us.
Even though I'm no longer working exclusively on the baseball beat, I'll still be available to inject Peter Schmuck with B-12 shots whenever he's feeling a little sluggish. And I'll still have plenty to say about the Orioles. It might take a bit longer to grow comfortable with hockey and NASCAR, but I'll do my best.