-Roland Hemond on Ben McDonald and the “Why Not?” O’s
There’s some very good reading to be had for Orioles fans, specifically about Adam Jones and Ben McDonald.
Heath at Dempsey’s Army has provided a “What They’re Saying” rundown about Adam Jones and the Mariners, so I won’t retread that path. However, The Olympian article “He’s not that into you” is worth a look.
The transformation in him from last season is evident not only on the field, but in the way he carries himself in the clubhouse. He is a leader. He is good. And he knows it.
It makes one wonder at what point we stop referring to “the Bedard trade” and start referring to “the Jones trade.” He may end up being the more relevant and valued player.
That is of course unless one of the other players in the trade – right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman, a top pitching prospect for the Orioles – doesn’t also become a star. Then it may be referred to “the Jones-Tillman trade.”
Right now, Mariners fans might as well call it “the worst trade in franchise history.”
While you’re at it, definitely read ‘There’s nothing guaranteed in this game,’ only the money, a USA Today piece by Bob Nightengale that uses Ben McDonald’s signing to contextualize the upcoming draft of and subsequent negotiations for Stephen Strasburg.
Lots of great O’s tidbits in there, including Mickey Tettleton taunting McDonald in the clubhouse and Roland Hemond suggesting that the “Why Not?” O’s could have made the playoffs had Big Ben signed earlier. Excerpts follow.
“Don’t feel sorry for me,” says McDonald, 41, who married his college sweetheart, Nicole, and spends time coaching the softball, baseball and basketball teams for his 14-year-old daughter, Jorie, and 8-year-old son, Jase.
“There were other things I wanted to accomplish but didn’t. But I still got to play in the big leagues. I still made a good living. I could have been hurt and out of the game my first year.”
“I don’t know what it’s going to be like for (Strasburg’s) family, but for us, tough, really, really tough,” says Larry McDonald, Ben’s father. “We took Scott Boras’ advice, and he got Ben more money than we dreamed, but it was so tough on everyone here. Every time Scott Boras would call, my wife would just say, ‘Oh, here’s that fancy slick-back-haired California lawyer calling again.’ “
“I told my wife, as long as I got a satellite TV, air conditioning and a bed,” McDonald says, “I’m happy. When you’re born around here, they give you a camouflage T-shirt and a gun. The rest is up to you.”
David Segui, McDonald’s former teammate with the Orioles, remembers the good ol’ boy who got along with every clique in the clubhouse. There was the time in the 1989 Florida Instructional League when the two of them went fishing and McDonald pulled a 6-foot alligator out of the pond and put it in the hotel room bathtub of teammates Tony Chance and Mike Cavers. Cavers opened the shower curtain and was last seen screaming in the hotel parking lot dressed in a towel.
Despite his easygoing personality, McDonald found it difficult to step into the Orioles’ clubhouse three months after being drafted. There was resentment and jealousy, but McDonald doesn’t blame his teammates.
“The minimum (salary) was only $60,000, so I was making more than half of the guys in that clubhouse,” McDonald says. “It was my first time away from home, and I just felt bad about everything. I was embarrassed.
“I remember my first day in the clubhouse. I walk by (veteran catcher) Mickey Tettleton and he didn’t even say, ‘Hello,’ or ‘Kiss my a—.’ But he yells out to everyone, ‘Oh, God, here comes our $900,000 pitcher.’ “
Roland Hemond is currently an Arizona Diamondbacks special assistant but was the Orioles general manager in 1989 and says he thinks the lengthy negotiations cost the team a playoff berth.
“If he had signed sooner, we might have picked up a couple of wins and gotten in there,” Hemond says. “But the negotiations just kept dragging. And sometimes when that happens, the player and the agent lose out in the long run.”
McDonald comes off as a down-to-Earth guy; Boras, not so much. I wonder if some folks in the Nats front office will clip this piece and bring it with them to the negotiating table for Strasburg.