Center fielder Adam Jones can be mercurial. One of the most articulate Orioles, sometimes his post-game interviews are terse and unusable for reporters' purposes.
And I usually give him a pass on those days. Because he is almost always at his locker and because he gets approached so often that I'm sure it gets old quickly.
But I also give him a pass on those uncooperative days because when something needs to be said, when hard questions have to be asked, Jones often will step up and take them all head-on.
He was waiting for the media by his locker Sunday afternoon following the Orioles' 6-0 loss to the Texas Rangers, their fourth straight and 10th of 11.
The season is spiraling out of control and Jones was there to talk about it whereas some of his teammates -- some that have stepped up in the past -- weren't around. That's been happening more often in the last month or so.
But not only did Jones talk, he punched back at critics who may question the Orioles' lack of effort during this losing skid.
More of the quotes can be read here, but here's Jones' most pointed comments in one paragraph:
"My biggest thing about sports is when somebody doubts an effort or another player or something like that. That's basically calling him a coward. You know what I mean? Whenever someone says, 'Oh you don't give an effort. You're not playing [with] effort.' That's kind of calling someone a coward. It's like me going to someone else's job and saying 'You're not playing. You're not doing what you're supposed to be doing. You're not playing hard.' It's a sport, man. We go out there and play our tails off. Some days it looks pretty, some days it doesn't, but the effort is always there. For some people to say that our effort level isn't there just because we struck out 11 times [Sunday]. We could strike out 20 times. But to say our effort level wasn't there, that's a slap in the face. And I want to slap somebody in the face who says that."
I've been in this business long enough to know that fans don't really care if players talk to the media or not. Fans want wins. They want hustle. They want effort. Most couldn't care about players answering hard questions.
But, in the big picture, it all speaks to accountability. To accepting responsibility for failures, because the cheers are going to come. It isn't easy, I'm sure. But the best players, the biggest winners always seem to be the ones who also are accessible and accountable.
** It's very possible that Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Darren O'Day are gone at season's end. And that's a whole lot of veteran experience and leadership walking out the Orioles' clubhouse door.
O'Day may be the most irreplaceable leader of the trio, but closer Zach Britton has the talent, ability and personality to pick up some of that slack. And Caleb Joseph, despite his lack of big-league experience, is already a fairly trusted voice in the clubhouse.
But others have to step up to join Jones.
To me the most interesting candidate is 23-year-old third baseman Manny Machado, who is clearly the best player on the roster (along with Jones).
The jury is out on Machado's leadership; there's a maturity question. And he's obviously allowed his emotions to get the best of him several times in young career. He did that Saturday, when he spiked his helmet and jawed at the home plate umpire when he was rung up to end the game.
Machado's complaints were justified -- home plate umpire David Rackley should have asked for help on the check-swing appeal -- but he still needs to go about things the right way. We saw a glimpse of that Saturday night, though, after the game when he calmly talked to reporters about his outburst. Again, it's all accountability, whether it's to the media, the fans, his teammates, etc.
And Saturday night was a nice step for Machado.
** If the Orioles are still trying to improve themselves for 2015, or if they are trying to dump a pending free agent for prospects, Monday is really the last day to do it. Players that aren't in an organization on Sept. 1 can't be placed on a playoff roster. And to be traded Monday, players must have already passed through revocable trade waivers.
So the chances of the Orioles making a move seem remote. That said, when it comes to trades, I don't dismiss Dan Duquette. He's made at least one in August in each of the past three years. And he told me on Saturday that he's not giving up on this season. Maybe that was just talk; it's one of those things that, in a sense, must be said publicly.
So we'll see if it means anything in the next 24 hours.