If you're rooting for a former Orioles executive to be named Reds general manager, your chances just increased. You also need to look in the mirror and ask why it's that important to you. Anyway, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Frank Wren has been identified as the eighth candidate and soon will interview for the position. Jim Beattie has an interview scheduled for tomorrow.
Wren, as I'm sure you remember, served as Orioles GM in 1999, when the club went 78-84. He was fired after one season and replaced by Syd Thrift, who never got along with Wren. At the time of Wren's dismissal, on Oct. 7, 1999, the club issued a bizarre press release that pretty much aired its dirty laundry in public. It came across my fax machine -- the same one I just chucked in a dumpster two nights ago after realizing that I really don't need a fax machine anymore -- and I was both stunned and amused. Not because Wren was fired -- I really liked the guy and he made some great deals, getting Jeff Conine for minor league pitcher Chris Fussell and Jason Johnson for minor league outfielder Danny Clyburn -- but because none of us in the media could remember ever seeing a release that took so many shots at an employee. They're usually much more tactful.
I still have it.
"As a result of a meeting earlier this week with general manager Frank Wren, the management of the Baltimore Orioles has decided to terminate Wren's contract.
"The announcement was made by Orioles vice chairman and chief operating officer Joseph Foss.
"Foss, along with Orioles general counsel Russell Smouse, met Tuesday with Wren 'to come to agreement on how everyone involved could work together for the upcoming season. Among the matters discussed was a season-long series of incidents involving a variety of personnel matters, both with front office staff and players. As a result of failing to resolve these issues, it was determined that Mr. Wren's employment could no longer be continued,' Foss said.
"Also discussed at the meeting, Foss said, 'was a recent episode of considerable concern.' That episode occurred Sept. 17 when the Orioles were scheduled to fly to California for a three-game series with the Angels.
"Cal Ripken, traveling from his home to meet the team's privately chartered jet for an 8 a.m. flight to a game later that night in Anaheim, found himself delayed in congested traffic. He called the team's traveling secretary, Phil Itzoe, by car phone to assure him that he would be arriving at the airport within the next five to 10 minutes. Itzoe relayed this information to Wren, who declared he would not wait beyond the scheduled departure time. At Wren's order, the plane took off without Cal, who arrived at the gate a few minutes later. Cal was then forced to make his own cross-country travel arrangements. He had to hurry to the Washington, D.C., airport, where he found a flight to Las Vegas and then had to take another flight to California, arriving hours after the team,' Foss said.
"'In the opinion of management, there was no need for such an arbitrary and inflexible decision. In the meeeting, Wren defiantly dismissed our concerns, characterized them as silly and insisted he would invoke the same take-off order no matter what the extenuating circumstances,' said Foss. 'The Orioles management cannot and will not abide having a general manager operate in such an unreasonable, authoritarian manner and treat anyone in this way, especially someone such as Cal, who has done so much for the Orioles and for baseball.'
"Foss noted that among other incidents pointed out to Wren were situations where he had made 'extremely negative comments about various personnel. After first rejecting any need to apologize to these people, he agreed to apologize to three of those individuals, but refused to apologize to a fourth.
"Foss concluded, 'After careful consideration and prolonged deliberation, we have come to the conclusion that an on-going constructive working relationship is impossible and we have no alternative but to recommend that Frank Wren's contract as general manager be terminated.'
"In commenting on the situation, Orioles chairman and CEO Peter Angelos said, 'Regrettably, I must concur with the recommendation to terminate Mr. Wren's services and feel that the Orioles were left with no alternative.'"
Man, so much for the old "We thank Mr. Wren for his contributions to the organization, but we've decided to go in another direction."
As I recall, Wren refused to apologize to Thrift, which was one of the demands placed before him. He also had an early run-in with Angelos' two sons. The relationship with the Orioles was doomed from the start. He has spent the past six years as assistant GM in Atlanta -- many people in baseball congratulated him when he took the job, as if he was better off with the Braves -- but it appears he's no longer the first choice to get the lead job when it opens up, as was once assumed. I'd love to see him get another chance in Cincinnati, near where he grew up. He shouldn't be judged solely on one season in Baltimore. And if he does beat out the other seven candidates and is eventually fired, I'll be digging that fax machine out of the trash.