Kline's fingerprints on O's controversies
In regard to Laura Vecsey's column on June 3 ["Mazzilli's inaction raises arguable point about him"] and Mr. Joseph Cierniak's letter the next day ["Why doesn't Mazzilli stand up for players?"], can we assume the connection between the manager's reluctance to argue and the ineptness of Orioles reliever Steve Kline are merely coincidental?
While manager Lee Mazzilli admittedly may be trying too hard to be Joe Torre Jr., probably the worst thing that can be said about him is that he stubbornly insists on using Kline in crucial situations. First it was the "phantom balk" call that produced a winning run against the Royals on May 8; now it's a blown call on what had no reason to be a "tag play" at first base against the Red Sox on June 2.
Mazzilli had every reason to be more furious at Kline than the umpire during the loss to the Red Sox. Had Kline performed one of the basic elements of his job by covering first base as soon as the ball was hit, there would have been no call to dispute. It's hard to complain when your player messes up to begin with.
Now, Ms. Vecsey strongly suggests there is a core of players who wonder if the Orioles are succeeding in spite of their manager. Gee, I wonder if the leading malcontent might be the relief pitcher who, in addition to not getting his job done, seems to be in the middle of these examples of how Mazzilli doesn't back up his players?
Don't forget, Kline is the same guy who early in the season explained a "meatball" served up as a game-winning three-run homer by saying "in the National League they would bunt in that situation."
Maybe that's why he was pining for the NL while whining to a St. Louis reporter about Baltimore and saying he made a mistake leaving the Cardinals.
He was probably right, but right now it looks like the Orioles made the mistake.
Marie Slack Baltimore
Move Sosa down; Kline a big mistake
Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli is either stupid or just plain stubborn in his handling of Sammy Sosa and Steve Kline.
With the Chicago Cubs in 2004, Sosa apparently rebelled against manager Dusty Baker when he was dropped from fourth to sixth in the batting order. Is Mazzilli afraid that history will repeat itself?
With an anemic batting average and hitting horrendously in clutch situations all year, Sosa has easily made a strong case for batting seventh or eighth.
It can't be much more embarrassing than having opposing managers choose to intentionally walk Miguel Tejada to get to Sosa. Mr. Mazzilli, you go with the hot hand, and Sosa is now colder than an iceberg.
As for Kline, it's Mike DeJean all over again. Mazzilli has no business allowing this joker to pitch in any game other than a laugher. John Parrish has earned the right to be the left-handed setup man that the Orioles have lacked since the season began.
Kline stated earlier this year that he made a mistake in leaving St. Louis. I venture to say that most Orioles fans agree wholeheartedly.
Morton D. Marcus Baltimore