Thumbs up for Trembley, but MacPhail's hand forced

The Baltimore Sun

Dave Trembley is about to complete his first week as Orioles interim manager, and what's not to like?

The players seem to have responded to his upbeat leadership style during the interleague trip out west that ends today.

The club, in spite of the injuries that recently sidelined Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard, entered last night's game riding a modest winning streak.

It might seem logical at this point for new club president Andy MacPhail to slow-play his search for a permanent manager and see if the right man for the job was here all along.

It might even be the right thing to do, though right and wrong doesn't have a whole lot to do with anything at this point.

MacPhail was brought in with a clear ownership mandate to turn the team in a new direction.

Even if Trembley is the perfect guy to help him accomplish that, how is it going to look if the first big decision of the MacPhail era makes itself?

That shouldn't matter - not to a highly accomplished baseball executive who has a history of caring more about results than appearances - but the whole point of bringing in a dynamic new front-office leader was to demonstrate to the fans that the organization is committed to dynamic improvement.

In this case, with attendance tanking and stadium-based revenue in steady decline, appearances may actually be more important than short-term results.

There are a number of good reasons to give Trembley a chance to prove his solid minor league credentials can translate into major league success, not the least of which is the fact that he's a loyal organization guy who deserves the opportunity.

Trouble is, that will be viewed by a lot of disenchanted fans as another organizational copout.

They're waiting to see if MacPhail really has full authority to remold a broken franchise. They're waiting to see if Peter Angelos hired somebody to make things happen or let things happen.

That's going to put pressure on MacPhail to resume the managerial search after he moves into his new office Tuesday.

Tejada's folly

When Tejada made a token appearance in Thursday's game in San Diego to extend his consecutive games streak, the first thought that entered my mind was that he must have forgotten to wear his WWCD - What Would Cal Do? - bracelet to Petco Park.

That kind of thing was never going to fly in the post-Ripken era, but it didn't warrant all the criticism that was showered on Tejada and Trembley.

When Lou Gehrig did something similar in July 1934, he was applauded for the extent he was willing to go to keep his streak alive.

Friendly extortion

Sammy Sosa's 600th home run ball was briefly held hostage in the Texas Rangers bullpen, where the relievers who retrieved it hoped to trade it to Sosa for something of real value.

It's not what you think. The relievers, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News, cooked up this plan during spring training in an attempt to get the wealthy slugger to help bullpen catcher/video assistant Josh Frasier replace an old car.

They gave the ball to Frasier, but he simply passed it on to Sosa without asking for anything in return.

"I think it was pre-arranged that I would be the bearer of the ball," Frasier told the newspaper.

"All I did was hand the ball to a security guard. Then the guys started telling me what they were going to do. I was like 'Dude, Sammy can have the ball.' I'm just glad it went into the bullpen."

Sosa isn't saying how he'll return the favor, but it's fair to assume that Frasier will be well-rewarded for his kindness.

Pardon my cynicism

So, let me get this straight. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig strong-arms Jason Giambi to cooperate with the George Mitchell steroid investigation and now Mitchell's team is too booked up to talk to him until sometime in July?

Apparently, every lawyer in the Mitchell firm wants to be in the room when the interminable, multimillion-dollar investigation uncovers the startling fact that Giambi used steroids.

Historic anniversary

Lest anyone forget a watershed day in sports history, yesterday was the 35th anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1972, which included a fairly important section under the heading of Title IX. The section barred gender discrimination in the funding of college activities - most notably, intercollegiate sports.

I remember that pretty clearly because it was also the day I got kicked off the Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team.

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

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