People who know me well and follow my opinions on sports will chuckle at my declaration that I'm an eternal optimist, but what's always been perceived as negativity is better described as constructive criticism.
My constructive criticism continues as John and Louis Angelos, the sons of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, are apparently now firmly in charge of the Orioles.
I've never felt the sins of a father should be visited upon the children. For me, John and Louis Angelos start with a clean slate. Actually, the clean slate has had some positives sprinkled on it, with some common-sense approaches to what seem like simple issues.
Who could find a way to disparage John Angelos' initiative for kids to cheer free at Camden Yards? Who thinks the way the club is coming up with new themes to promote games almost on a nightly basis is a bad idea? What about music and fireworks on Friday nights? How about bringing back iconic Orioles such as Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray? Can Cal Ripken Jr. be far behind?
The rebuild? Now we're talking on-the-field matters, which must start with posting more wins than losses.
For hard-core and casual Orioles fans, rebuilding was a no-brainer. Yes, I would've loved the Orioles to make an effort to sign second baseman Jonathan Schoop before jettisoning him to the Milwaukee Brewers, but the rebuild is about accountability and sustainability more than anything else.
The accountability I'm talking about is a coherent plan to, once and for all, walk and chew gum at the same time -- build a contender at the major league level while improving the farm system so it can prime the major league pump.
The assertion by Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette that the Orioles were going to begin to look into the international market for players is the sweetest tune heard in Birdland in more than three decades. The Orioles have been terrible at the foreign game and investing in Latin America dating as far back as former club owner Edward Bennett Williams' tenure.
I remember when Peter Angelos hired Pat Gillick as his general manager. I asked Gillick during his introductory press conference about the likelihood of the club being active in the market for Cuban players, which was just beginning to percolate in the mid-1990s.
Gillick answered in the affirmative, but the club did little during Gillick's tenure to take advantage of his vast knowledge in that realm. Peter Angelos took the Orioles to Cuba to play the Cuban national team in 1999 after Gillick's departure. But Angelos never pivoted to use that goodwill in Cuba to his club's advantage, an incredible missed opportunity.
Recently, a visiting scout told me he scouted Low-A Delmarva and High-A Frederick.
"There isn't one Latin player on either team," he told me. "The game today is 30 percent Latin and 40 percent of the superstars are Latin. How can you win that way?"
Almost as if he were listening to that scout, Duquette acquired international bonus slots reportedly worth $2.75 million as part of the deals that sent right-handers Kevin Gausman, Darren O'Day and Brad Brach to the Atlanta Braves. That's the first time anyone can remember the Orioles doing such a thing.
The Orioles even reportedly signed Moises Ramirez, a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. The club is also well positioned to be among the favorites to sign Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa, Baseball America's No. 1 prospect for this international signing period.
Barring unforeseen events, the Orioles are also well positioned to have the No. 1 or No. 2 pick during next year's MLB Draft. If the Orioles sign Mesa along with one or two other Latin prospects and get the No. 1 pick, we'd finally see the Orioles take their place among the top 10 farm systems in baseball.
That brings us full circle to Duquette and his future. Duquette has been talking about the Orioles' rebuild since infielder Manny Machado was traded. He's fed fans the red meat they want about increasing the use of analytics and international spending. However, the ones not heard from are John and Louis Angelos and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson.
Remember, former Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro made all the deals to start the Phillies' rebuild -- including trading left-hander Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers -- in 2015, but he wasn't brought back the next year. Former Orioles executive Andy MacPhail was hired as president of the Phillies in June 2015 and eventually declined to bring back Amaro.
While Duquette's talking points are scoring well with the fan base, it's the overwhelming silence that may be speaking loudest of all.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox
Issue 246: August 2018