With the lowly Los Angeles Clippers making the NBA Playoffs and the devil waxing his curling stones, ESPN.com's Page 2 decided that it was time for the Clippahs to pass down the crown for "The Worst Franchise in Sports."
Their nominees seem pretty reasonable. The Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Lions, Golden Sate Warriors, Kansas City Royals, New York Knicks, Pittsburgh Pirates and Portland Trail Blazers all have pretty strong arguments for the title. But one of our local teams undeservingly made the list: The Baltimore Orioles.
I already did some griping about this over at Camden Chat, and the O's faithful there make some good points.
If you're going to pick a local team to mention with the likes of the above list, you'd have to go with the maligned hockey franchise. The Caps' finest moment was making the Cup finals in 1998, and their low moments have been too many to count. I love the Caps, but they've had a rough run since forming as an expansion Franchise in 1974. In their first season they set the NHL record for futility, going 8-67-5. The Caps didn't make the playoffs until 1983. They then went on a 14-season run of playoff appearances (and playoff chokes), but since making the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998 they've only made the playoffs three times, losing in the first round each time. But I'm tired of crapping on the Caps. I love the Caps and there's reason for optimism with Ovechkin, Kolzig and a bunch of young talent.
Actually, I wouldn't have been nearly as up-in-arms about putting the Nationals on that list instead of the Orioles, but more on that later...
The Orioles have won three World Series titles and six American League Pennants, and even in the eight years since they last made the playoffs the Devil Rays have finished lower in the AL East standings EVERY YEAR. The O's aren't even the most-deserving AL East team to be on the list.
I wouldn't have so much of a problem with the inclusion of the Orioles, but Graham Hays' piece on the topic stretches it a little too far for my liking, and some of the statements are just completely blind to the entirety of the situations. (Read: Hey Graham, get your head out of your ass... dummy.)
So let's break it down, shall we?
"Until and unless recent first-round picks Adam Loewen and Nick Markakis pan out, the best the Orioles have done in the opening round of the draft during Angelos' tenure is Jayson Werth -- who never played a game for Baltimore before being traded to Toronto for forgettable pitcher John Bale."
Well, first of all, Jayson Werth kinda sucked when he was in the O's system, and he still isn't so good. And that's the nature of the draft. First rounders don't always pan out, and using that as the barometer for the entire farm system is ridiculous. The Orioles have developed some good talent in Erik Bedard, Brian Roberts, Daniel Cabrera and Chris Ray.
"The Orioles paid:
Scott Erickson more than $7 million to sit out the 2003 season (after posting a 5.55 ERA for a paltry $5.1 million the previous season)."
This is a half-true. He got $7 million when he was hurt the whole season, but it's not like he had that awful 2002 and then the Orioles said, "Hey Scotty, we still have faith in you. Here's $7 million. And duck this time when your girlfriend picks up that lamp." 2003 was the fifth year of a five-year deal, and it was the kind of backloaded contract that every team gives talented players. If the player gets hurt, you end up paying them to sit. It happens all the time.
"Sammy Sosa $17 million to hit 14 home runs in 2005 and apparently speak far less English than he did during his days as a media darling with the Cubs in 1998."
That's just not true. The Cubs took on about half of that contract, and at the time that deal was widely viewed as a steal.
"And we haven't even gotten to the Faustian bargain that was Rafael Palmeiro at just $3 million for the 2005 season."
Faustian, eh? If you're going to use overdone allusions, at least use them correctly. The O's had no way of knowing he was using the 'roids when they signed him, and I'm pretty sure in the story Faust knew he was making a deal with the devil. That was kind of the whole point.
"The Orioles make the Nationals, a team still under the control of MLB, look like a model of efficiency and optimism. And if you can make Bud Selig look good, you must be doing something wrong."
Whoa whoa whoa... I know there's a lot of optimism because the Nats are the new team in town, but let's not get carried away. The Nats are run like the department store bargain basement for Major League Baseball. Until they get a new owner, they'll just be a way for the rest of the league's owners to squeeze out whatever cash they can get for the leftovers. What have the Expos/Nats done in their entire existence as a franchise? In 37 seasons they've made ONE playoff appearance. Sure, they went .500 last year. Congrats... Good enough for last place.
The Nats should avoid the list simply because they're at the mercy of Major League Baseball, who is running the team into the ground. The Orioles, on the other hand, should avoid the list because they've won in the past.
There's a difference between a traditionally good franchise in a down spell and a truly terrible franchise that's not going anywhere.