The Baltimore Orioles are once again being talked about due to a public spat between a player and a coach. Reliever Richard Bleier came out of last night’s loss in Washington, and appeared to have words with third base coach Jose Flores. Later it was confirmed that the issue at hand was defensive positioning:
I think I just let frustration kind of boil over about some stuff that … some balls that I thought maybe defensive positioning, I guess. I probably could have done better for myself to keep my mouth shut, and unfortunately, I may have said something and you guys saw the rest.Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports
Bleier surrendered a single down the first base line in last night’s game, on yet another play where the Orioles played a shift. And the ball would have been hit right to the first baseman had the shift not been on. As has been chronicled in this column ad hoc, teams seem adept at beating the Orioles in a shift. Bleier went onto say:
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean, I think that we’re all adults. It’s not like I’m mad at anybody. Right now, we’re not thrilled with each other, maybe, but I’m sure we can move past this and get back to a healthy relationship.Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports
First and foremost, regardless of anything else I’m not a fan of players verbally confronting coaches in public. I always remind folks – this game is a job to these guys. Think about your job, whatever that may be; if you have an issue with how a boss or supervisor is conducting things, do you verbally confront him in the middle of the office? In general, no you don’t.
Now having a closed door meeting with your superior and airing your concerns in a civilized manner might be another story. In general that’s a much better conduit for change. It also comes across as much more professional. And if you look at those quotes Bleier seems to understand that.Perhaps he understands it in retrospect, but he seems to understand it.
That said, I obviously agree in principle with Bleier. My personal view is that the Orioles play these shifts far too often. And on top of that, when they play them they usually play fairly radical shifts. There may be only one opportunity for a guy to get a base hit with some of these shifts – but they’re finding that one hole of daylight, all other things be damned.
Not all of this can be avoided. Some hitters just luck out at times. However how many situations have we seen such as in last night’s game where the ball is literally being hit to the exact spot a fielder would have been had there been no shift? That’s something that should stand out to fans.
I think what we’re seeing is that at the end of the day these shifts are just going to make guys into better hitters. The idea behind a shift is to cover the spots on the field where the hitter usually hits the ball. The fatal flaw of the shift is that the game’s still played by human beings. Sometimes fluky things happen. And if I were the Orioles, it would give me pause when I saw that they seemed to happen to me an awful lot.