Ed note: I would have put more links in this one but I'm also working on a writeup of tonight's Caps game so this one is going strictly off memory. Anybody that wants to fact-check this thing and point out my errors, have at it.
When you’ve been as bad as the Orioles have been the last 12 years, you don’t get there without some effort. In order to remain stuck in futility like the O’s have, you almost have to have the perfect storm of badness:
Tonight, we’ll focus on those bad players. Actually, its also a reflection of bad management since all but two of these players were brought in from outside the organization. These are the bad contracts, the poor attitudes and of course, the accused and proven steroid users that have contributed to the culture of losing that General Manager Andy MacPhail is trying to undo. This is in no particular order (and strictly my opinion) the worst 12 Orioles from the last 12 years plus two bonus picks.
Albert Belle - How shall we count the ways. Belle was already well known as a head case before he got to Baltimore. When he opted out of his contract with Chicago, owner Peter Angelos was so desperate to keep him away from the Yankees, he handed the productive but wholly unlikable Belle a 5-year, $55 million contract. He hit a home run in his first game with the O’s but it was pretty much all downhill from there. His production slid badly and by the end of year 2 of his contract, Belle had a degenerative hip condition that would end his career. Since this is Albert Belle, he did not go quietly into retirement. He was accused, and went to jail for, that most difficult of habits to break - stalking an ex-girlfriend.
Marty Cordova - We’ve already been through this one. Let’s just say that if the highlight of your tenure after you sign a 3-year $20 million dollar contract is burning yourself in a tanning bed - things didn’t exactly work out.
Sammy Sosa - Instead of analyzing this one or making a snide comment, I will relate a story that sums up Sammy’s one year in Baltimore.
I was at Sosa’s third ever game with the Orioles against Oakland. At one point, facing the immortal Kirk Saarloos, Sammy hit a high fly ball towards left field. We all stood up. Sammy did his homer hop. This was it, Sammy’s first home run as an Oriole. The ball soared high into the night….and died on the warning track.
Will Clark/Chris Richard - I put these two guys together because at one point they were traded for one another and they were quite similar - surly, arrogant, unproductive and with an inflated sense of self. Richard thought he was the second coming of Babe Ruth, while Will Clark was well…Will Clark.
Quick story on the man known as “The Thrill.” I was going to school at Towson and my sister was going to Western Maryland (I refuse to call it McDaniel). My mother came up to visit and we went out for dinner at a Mexican joint in Owings Mills. Who walks in the place but Will Clark and his family. The Orioles were in Boston but Clark was on the disabled list at the time. He was a balding, dumpy looking guy. He looked more like a slow-pitch softball player than a professional baseball player. I turned to my Mom and said, more as a rhetorical question, “That’s Will Clark?”
Paul Bako - This one really has little to do with Bako and more to do with the fact that the Orioles have had some very shitty #2 catchers over the past decade or so: Brook Fordyce, Geronimo Gil, Tommy Davis, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Bako is just one of those guys whose name screams "crappy baseball player." Fordyce was another. Others include Pat Tabler, Steve Balboni, Rob Fick and Brad Fullmer.
Sidney Ponson - Sir Sidney (he’s a knight in his native Aruba) was mostly just a maddeningly inconsistent pitcher for the bulk of his Orioles tenure. In 2003 he put together his best season and was traded to San Francisco for an underwhelming package that included Damian Moss and Kurt Ainsworth. He was brought back the next year and instead of being a talented enigma, he was just a fat enigma who couldn’t find a uniform that fit. He outdid himself at the end of his O’s tenure. Sir Sid got drunk and punched a judge in Aruba, picked up his second DUI and had an ERA over 5. Tired of his act, the Orioles simply fired him. Terminating his contract without buying him out.
Victor Zambrano - Zambrano will forever go down as the man the Mets traded Scott Kazmir for but he also helped contribute to a nightmarish August and September for the 2007 Orioles.
Just to refresh the memories, the 2007 O’s were having a surprising season led by the pitching of Erik Bedard and Jeremy Guthrie. However, by mid-August, Bedard and Guthrie were out with injuries (this was around the time of the infamous 30-3 game against Texas) and the O’s pitching staff was in desperate need of bodies. Enter Zambrano. Things go from bad to worse, including a game where the O’s gave up 11 runs in an inning against Tampa Bay. Zambrano was gone by the end of yet another season in 4th place.
Daniel Cabrera - Sir Sidney without the DUIs. D-Cab was the sort of guy that could throw a one-hitter at Yankee Stadium or walk the ballpark and be gone by the second inning. Not having him around this year will save a good many heart palpitations for O’s fans.
Jay Gibbons/David Segui/Jason Grimsley - Three of the most prominent members of the Orioles steroid era.
Segui was right up there with Cordova and Belle as terrible free agent signings. Not even HGH, which he admitting to using, could help Segui stay healthy, which says a lot about a guy’s propensity for getting hurt considering HGH is meant to help you RECOVER from injuries.
Grimsley might go down as one of the most disastrous trades in O’s history. He was bad on the field but he did even more damage off the field as he outed Miguel Tejada, Gibbons, Brian Roberts and Segui when he was busted for distributing HGH.
Gibbons had two rather productive years of 20+ homers and 100 RBIs. But his glass slipper soon turned into a pumpkin, and he morphed into a complete liability at the plate before getting suspended for steroids and being released.
Trenidad Hubbard - Hubbard is maybe the most fitting symbol of Orioles trade futility (up until the Tejada and Bedard trades).
In 2000, with the O’s languishing in 4th place again, GM Syd Thrift was tasked with getting an aging roster younger. So he held what became known as “The Great Fire Sale of 2000.” Gone were veterans like Harold Baines, Charles Johnson and Will Clark. The most heart-wrenching trade was that of B.J. Surhoff, a popular and productive player who cried at the press conference where it was announced he had been traded to Atlanta.
And what did the O’s get in return? Hubbard, a guy who was neither young (he was 34 at the time) nor much good and he was promptly gone by the end of the season.
Larry Bigbie - Another symbol, this time for bad O’s drafting. Even steroids couldn’t help Bigbie, who was a first-round pick who never panned out. He then made things worse by ratting out Brian Roberts and ‘Stumblin’ Jack Cust, among others. Thanks for the memories Larry.