Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/14/11
Df

September 28, 2011 may well be a date to which we look back in Baltimore Orioles’ history in the years to come. For those that have forgotten, that’s the day that the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox in the final game of the season to help seal their fate for the 2011 season. We’ve hashed and rehashed in this column the whole thing about how the Red Sox had kicked the Orioles’ derriere’s over the years, and how great of a moment that was for the Orioles and the fans. While all of that is still the case, that one game has seemingly set in motion a sequence of events, the end of which we might not see for awhile.

In very short order, Terry Francona announced he wouldn’t be back as the BoSox manager, and just this past week GM Theo Epstein flew the coup for the same position with the Chicago Cubs. And those are only the changes in management; Lord knows what might happen with various players. The coup de grace so to speak was the story that broke this week about the likes of Josh Beckett and others eating friend chicken, drinking beer, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games. Not to mention the fact that some players used the occasion to take pot shots at Francona as he was walking out the door by saying that he lost control of the team due to his marital problems and potential drug abuse.

First off, let me say that whatever Terry Francona might have been going through in a very personal matter at home should supercede what was happening on the field. I was raised to believe that your job should NEVER be put before your family. Furthermore, for players to blame Francona for the epic collapse on the field is shameful, especially while some among them were eating and drinking in the clubhouse. The entire thing shows a total lack of respect for the game, the team, the opponents, etc. As a lifelong baseball guy, I take great umbrage at the audacity shown in this entire situation by the Red Sox. Basically what the players were saying is that they were so much better than the rest of the league they could have their fun during games and still win…

…Robert Andino put those ideas to bed with his RBI-double in the last of the ninth on September 28th. Keep in mind that if the Red Sox win that game and/or find some way to get into the playoffs none of this comes out, and odds are Francona and Epstein probably come back next season. (None of us knows if they truly would have returned keep in mind…) So here we were a few weeks ago applauding the Orioles for how much respect they showed for baseball by playing those games to the death, and little did we know that there would be these unintended consequences. But what exactly does any of this truly have to do with the Orioles?

Again, odds are the Red Sox are still in tact with the Epstein/Francona team, and that chicken and beer story never would have broken had the Red Sox made the playoffs. So the question now is whether or not they’re going to have to rebuild? That’s a question that the new GM and manager will have to answer together. The Orioles are also seeing change in their front office with Andy MacPhail, and now scouting director Joe Jordan leaving their positions. The futures of these two franchises, and perhaps of the AL East in general very much hang in the balance right now. I think that for the Birds it’s surprisingly a bit clearer given that while there will be changes, much of the team is in place. They just need to get better, and they’ll hopefully do that with whatever offseason aquisitions the new GM makes. The Red Sox seem to not only have an unsure future, but many of the players in the clubhouse seem to be at each other’s throats. Just this week David Ortiz casually mentioned that he might want to play for a team that has less drama. Power corrupts, right?

So remember that date moving forward; September 28, 2011. Perhaps in five years this entire thing will be an afterthought. However it also might serve as the juxtaposition point for two franchises headed in different directions. Perhaps the hunted became the hunters, and vice-versa. All I know is that in the afterglow of that game, they had already coined a new phrase: curse of the Andino.

Follow me on Twitter: @DomenicVadala

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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