Before you get surly, we mainly talk baseball in here. I can’t do much about that other bird team from Baltimore besides shake my head along with you.
So, we’re sticking with baseball. With a little history. Take your mind off the present.
Although, I’m not gonna conjure happy memories at the Tap Room today. Call it Manic Depressive Monday.
I wrote earlier this week that right-hander and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, who is about to pitch in the in the World Series for the Chicago Cubs, may be the ultimate “one who got away” in Orioles history. That’s a pretty bold statement. And I started to rethink it while watching a Reggie Jackson documentary on Fox Sports on Sunday.
Reggie got away after one year in Baltimore and then cemented his reputation as Mr. October and a Hall-of-Famer when he signed with the rival New York Yankees the next winter as a free agent.
But Jackson was already 30 during his lone Orioles season in 1976 – he held out initially but still had 27 doubles, 27 homers and 28 stolen bases in 134 games.
If you want to pinpoint the one that got away during that era, you may have to choose one of the players traded from Baltimore to Oakland in that Jackson deal in 1976: outfielder Don Baylor.
Baylor was just 26 at the time of that trade and was coming off his first 25-homer season. The Orioles knew he was going to be really good, but the idea of acquiring Jackson – and maybe signing him long-term – was too enticing. Ultimately, it didn’t pan out.
In 1979, Baylor won the AL MVP Award for the California Angels and he proved to be one of the more consistent power hitters throughout the late 1970s/mid-1980s.
So, with further consideration, maybe Baylor would be my vote for the best one to get away.
Certainly, there are other candidates. All three of the young players the Orioles gave up for Glenn Davis – Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley – had excellent careers after leaving Baltimore. Schilling is a borderline Hall-of-Famer.
You could make a case that the Orioles should have held onto Rule 5 pick Jose Bautista back in 2004, but then you would have had to stomach liking JoeyBats for all these years.
Nelson Cruz is a consideration, but the Orioles had him for just one year in his 30s, so I think that’s a stretch. And Mike Mussina had some of his best seasons at Camden Yards before defecting to New York.
But this is your call. I’m leaving the question – and the bar tab – open for you. You can interpret it however you like. There’s no wrong answer and the guidelines are fairly simple: Who is the one player — above all others — the Orioles never should have given up on? You can use some revisionist history if you like (very few people were crying about Arrieta’s departure in 2013).
Tap-In Question: Who is the Orioles’ ultimate, ‘One-that-got-away?’