Cape Gazette
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J.J. Hardy is insane

By Ryan Mavity | Jul 18, 2011

In my last post, I questioned Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy’s sanity if he were to sign on with the sad-sack O’s for any length of time.

So now that Hardy has signed a three-year deal to stay in Baltimore, I don’t think I’m being libelous when I say J.J. Hardy is insane.

Oh, he’s not insane in the traditional sense, like how Kim Jong Il or Michelle Bachman are insane.

No, Hardy is insane for drinking Orioles owner/Uncle Scrooge Peter Angelos’ Kool-Aid. For tying his playing future to the Orioles, for even believing they will be competitive during the length of that contract. I hope there’s no press conference where Hardy comes out and says how he thinks the O’s are building a winner.

I hope J.J. says something to the effect of, “I really love crabs, Natty Boh’s, the Ravens and the Federal Hill bars, so I wanted to stay here.”

Realistically, there are only three reasons I can see for Hardy signing here: the reason listed above (crabs, etc.), there was no better opportunity elsewhere or the money.

Knowing Angelos, I doubt it was the money. Once a big spender, Angelos has morphed into a skinflint, pocketing his MASN cable money. The Orioles will sign washed-up "names" like Vlad Guerrero, but stars in their prime either won't sign here or Angelos will just make a token offer to placate what fanbase is left but never follow through on it, as was the case with the Mark Teixeira fiasco two years ago.

In that case, the Orioles made Teixeira into the bad guy, and we O's fans ate it up. Certainly the fact that Tex is an easy guy to dislike - his douche quotient is as high as Phillip Rivers' - helped us swallow the notion that he had spurned his hometown team and should be booed accordingly. When in reality, the Orioles made a token offer, then never followed up on it and then made Tex the villain for signing with the Yankees. And really, who could blame the guy for going to a winning organization like the Yankees instead of a dysfunctional loser like the Orioles.

Back to Hardy. The truth is, I like J.J. Hardy as a ballplayer. Hell, if the Orioles had 8 other guys like Hardy they wouldn’t be in the shape they’re in today. They certainly wouldn’t be a laughingstock.

Hardy has been a pleasant surprise all around, playing good defense at short and providing pop from the leadoff spot, where he has thrived since Brian Roberts got hurt. Again.

Unlike most of GM Andy MacPhail’s (or should we say MacFail?) acquisitions, Hardy was a player in his prime (28), not an over-the-hill veteran chasing one last contract. Hardy, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have pretty much been the Orioles lone bright spots (not counting Kevin Gregg’s “fight” with Boston’s David Ortiz) in what has become another miserable year in fifth place.

What it comes down to is, I’ve watched this team long enough to see the effect on anyone that signs to play for the Orioles long-term. Miguel Tejada was the effervescent MVP of the Oakland A’s in the early 2000’s before he signed with the Orioles. In short order, the O’s losing ways beat all the fun out of Miggy, whose career never recovered.

Roberts signed up for four years and hasn’t been healthy since. Outfielder Nick Markakis signed for six years and has gone from promising young developing power hitter to a glorified singles hitter.

Something is rotten in the State of Angelos and it seems that as long as the Asbestos King is still owning the team, there will be a black cloud over the Baltimore Orioles. This franchise has pretty much been a doormat ever since Tony “F’N” Fernandez took Armando Benitez deep in the 1997 ALCS.

I like J.J. Hardy as a player enough to not want to see him caught up in Orioles loserdom. An honest player like J.J. Hardy deserves to play in meaningful games and he has no chance of doing that under Angelos, MacPhail and the bumbling Orioles.

J.J. was out of his mind to sign on here long-term, and I consider myself an Orioles fan. I just hope the black cloud doesn't swallow him up.

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