Being a columnist is a little like being an umpire or referee. There are quick, judgment calls to be made, some of which don't look so good upon further review.
Officials get second chances these days thanks to instant replay. Columnists deserve them, too. So, after all that has transpired in the past week, I'm throwing a few red flags to overturn some bad calls.
Call No. 1: "Besides being the team's best offensive player, [Ray Rice has] never been arrested, never been associated with scandal ... he's active in the community, highly interactive with fans and he always looks like he's enjoying himself. ... He's the kind of pro athlete you don't mind your children looking up to."
-July 22, 2012
After further review: Yeah, so, he's no longer the team's best offensive player, he has, of course, been arrested and is now in the midst of a scandal, he's had to cancel his community interaction, he didn't look like he was enjoying himself on that TMZ.com video, and when my daughter walked out of the house in a "No. 27" jersey on Friday I was afraid I might be charged with being an unfit parent.
Other than all that, the column was spot on.
Rice is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but not in the court of public opinion.
John Harbaugh can praise Rice's character all he wants and the rest of the Ravens organization can withhold judgment until all the facts are in, but fans have read in media reports and a police summons that he punched his fiancee and they watched him drag her from an elevator.
Judgment is already in. Whether he punched, slapped or pushed his fiancee, whether she was knocked unconscious directly by his hand or by falling into something else, Rice is not who we thought he was.
This is not some "mistake," like drinking a protein shake that contains a banned substance. This is behavior, and how we behave is who we are.
At the least, giving Rice the benefit of the doubt, it's a disgraceful way to treat the mother of your child. A powerful male athlete simply can not get physical with a female, regardless of what she was doing.
At the most, it's felony assault deserving of jail time.
Rice most likely will play for the Ravens this fall. The salary cap hit the team would take by cutting him probably dictates that. And my daughter's Rice jerseys most likely will not be thrown away. We have a cap of our own, called a household budget, that probably dictates that.
But he's surely no longer "the kind of pro athlete you don't mind your children looking up to."
Call No. 2: "The Orioles [have] added no one ... their window is closing faster than Peter Angelos' wallet."
- Feb. 9, 2014
After further review: That wallet line was a pretty good one, but the timing wasn't so great. Since then, money has (finally) started flowing and the Orioles made, or are in the process of making, some interesting, potentially game-changing moves.
First, they signed Suk-min Yoon for nearly $6 million over three years. They're batting .500 on pitchers from Asia recently and the guess is that Yoon will be better than the never-seen Tsuyoshi Wada though not quite as good as Wei-Yin Chen. Regardless, he provides nice depth in the bullpen and could fight for some starts.
Second, they made their first major free-agent signing in a decade or so, giving a reported four years and $50 million to Ubaldo Jimenez. There is likely no middle ground for this move. If he gets injured or pitches as he did in 2011 and 2012, it'll haunt the franchise and be cited as a contributing factor if/when Matt Wieters and/or Chris Davis leave as free agents. On the other hand, if he pitches as he did in 2010, when he was the National League starter in the All-Star Game, or last year, when he was basically unhittable in the second half of the season, he could be the difference between a barely over .500 team and a serious contender. He's a groundball pitcher with baseball's best infield behind him. If the Orioles are still playing in mid-October, Jimenez is likely to be the reason why.
Finally, reports were swirling Saturday that the Orioles and Nelson Cruz had reached a one-year, $8 million deal. Without Cruz, Baltimore has one of baseball's better lineups. With him, it might be the best as the Orioles become a lot less reliant on Nolan Reimold, David Lough, Delmon Young and/or Henry Urrutia. He has the potential to hit 30 home runs. He also has the potential to fall off the PED wagon.
There is risk involved in all three of these moves. But they were worth taking. This is their window. Adding these pieces was their best chance to take advantage of that.