Monday, August 3, 2009

Melvin Mora is not a son of a gun, nor does he have hair on his tongue

As readers will learn, I'm a baseball-o-holic with a strong preference for the Baltimore Orioles. It goes down rough. Every time.

Though their record doesn't indicate it, times are as good as they have been for eons in Birdland. The roster contains eight rookies. At least six of them have shown promise. Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergesen lead the pack as each have a chance to become the AL Rookie of the Year. Baseball Jesus, a.k.a Matt Weiters hasn't lit the world on fire yet, but O's fans are content knowing Judgement Day is just around the corner.

The home grown talent in the majors might not seem like a blessing to most other teams, but for the Orioles, it's an open bar at church. Keep in mind from 1998 to 2006 the only farm system O's to make the MLB their permanent home are Sidney Ponson, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Brian Roberts. Sorry Rodrigo Lopez, emergency starts with the Phillies don't cut it. No one cares if you get a World Series ring out of it.

The Orioles had few bright spots during their eight years of confusion, but the one that shines like the crimson eye of Cerberus, was the trade that brought Melvin Mora over from the Mets for Mike Bordick in the final year of his contract. The not-so amazin's were blessed with a .260 regular season average for two months and a 1-for-8 performance in the postseason while the Orioles got nine years of an above average third baseman and utility man. It's hard to believe he got moved to the outfield temporarily for the man who batted like his pee-hole contained his third eye. Mora's meatus was known for talent in other areas.

Mora has remained as classy a player as anyone could ask for during a decade-long regrowing period. He's the first Oriole to try to lay down a bunt, he's dealt with position changes only slightly begrudgingly, and he's played injured. That's why yesterday's news that Mora felt disrespected by his coach Dave Trembley was pretty distressing.

It's fair Mora felt he wasn't getting a fair shake to show his stuff in what's likely to be the final year of his contract. He's in the worst power outage of his career, he's an aging player and now he's not getting a chance to work out of it with his last chance at a pay day coming up.
Only a few days prior he said he'd like to play for four more years. That probably a reach unless he's willing to take a role as a bench player.
He's played his tail off for the last six years, earning an average of $5 million per year during his most productive years, a steal for a guy capable of 20 homers and 90 RBI's routinely during that time. Now, when he needs the O's the most, he feels abandoned. Welcome to the league, bud.

The Orioles showed more patience then most clubs would though. The logical transition to Ty Wigginton seemed to take forever. He's sure to be their starting third baseman next year as he's more productive with the bat and there's not much drop off with his glove. Mora seems to know it, and showed his full array of emotions today when clarifying. He sounds like a guy ready to move on.

"Whatever happens the next 24 hours, the next week, the next two months," Mora said, "I just want to walk out of here with my forehead up so that everyone can remember me as a great Oriole and not as a son of a gun."
My favorite story about Melvin Mora, was in 2004 when he transitioned back to the infield from the outfield after Tony Batista's departure. He'd become so comfortable using his outfield glove that he refused to turn it in for the smaller infield version, despite his coaches' advice.
With six errors in the first four games of the season, Mora finally came into the dugout looking defeated after making an error early in the fourth. He frustratedly chucked his outfield glove into the locker room and grabbed an infielders glove. He only made 15 errors the rest of the season.

That orneriness was still present tonight when he spoke about his frustration yesterday. But in the end, he did what was in the best interest of the team. It was classic Mora.

"I'm glad I said it because that's the way I feel," Mora said. "I don't have hair on my tongue. When I feel something like that, I'm going to tell everybody. I never get tired [of] thanking this organization because I've had my career here. I always thank the fans because they've been outstanding with me. ... I've had a good time here with the Orioles, but if you have to move on, you have to move on. I'm always going to be an Oriole, no matter what I'm going to be."

I'm not sure exactly what it means to have hair on your tongue, but I'm glad Melvin doesn't have it. Maybe it's an old Venezuelan idiom. Even if Mora does grow an abnormal tongue beard over the next few months, his departure from the O's is one I do not look forward to.

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