Orioles right fielder Albert Belle broke three months of media silence yesterday by saying that some of his teammates "quit" on former manager Ray Miller. Belle also commended ousted general manager Frank Wren for not enforcing a "double standard" toward third baseman Cal Ripken that ostensibly contributed to Wren's firing last Wednesday.
Appearing on "Time Out with John Thompson" on Washington's WTEM-AM SportsTalk 980, Belle told the former Georgetown coach that the Orioles should hire bench coach Eddie Murray as Miller's successor and Toronto Blue Jays assistant GM Dave Stewart, New York Yankees special assistant Reggie Jackson or broadcaster Dave Winfield as their next general manager. After speaking to local media last season every time he hit three home runs in a game, Belle cited the Orioles for failing to control a "chaotic" Baltimore media.
Belle described the fourth-place season as "disappointing" and mentioned Miller's inability to deal with numerous players.
"It goes back to two years ago. He had developed bad relationships with some players who didn't want to come back. It's hard to play for a manager when people don't respect him. And he doesn't communicate well," Belle said. "But I've got nothing bad to say about the guy. He wrote my name in the lineup every day."
Belle later added, "I think it's a situation with Ray Miller that the players didn't like him and some quit on him."
He said that Murray "should be next in line" as Orioles manager.
Regarding the Sept. 17 incident in which the team charter left Ripken at BWI Airport, Belle endorsed Wren's decision, which was ultimately cited by the club as contributing to his firing.
"When Frank Wren didn't hold up the plane for Cal Ripken he was just being consistent. Other players have been late and the bus or plane would leave. He had some guts not to issue a double standard," Belle said.
Belle suggested the incident served as an excuse for Peter Angelos to carry out a move he had been contemplating for months.
As for naming the next manager, Belle said he believes Miller's successor may come from within the organization. "I think Angelos has probably sat down with Cal Ripken, with Mike Mussina, with Brady Anderson they've been here the longest. And he'll take the information and sort it out."