When you first arrived in Baltimore, I loved the way you played. Your uniform was dirty by the end of the first inning. You ran out every ground ball-pity the poor opposing infielder who took his time getting the ball to first! You would bunt for base hits, dragging the ball just hard hard enough to get by the pitcher, but leaving the second baseman no chance. Coaching my son's team, you were the role model as to how to play the game.
But then something awful happened: a prima donna took over. Was it your first all star selection? The MIguel Tejada influence? The power stroke that produced 18 HR's in 2005? Your first big contract? You stopped bunting. You stopped running hard to first base on ground balls you percieve as routine. In the field, the routine plays were made with a nonchalant air. You seemed almost giddy when an opposing star stands on second base and you get a chance to chat with him. David Ortiz? Derek Jeter? It looks like you're almost rooting for them to get on base. It's embarassing to watch.
Brian, you can't turn on and turn off intensity without mishaps and last night's game in LA is a perfect example of what happens. Rushing a flip to second results in an error and an unearned run. Hitting a high chopper toward Izturis at second: your speed could have made it a close play. Instead, your jog down the line barely gets you halfway there. If you run hard, who knows? Maybe Izturis rushes the throw.... When was the last time that you used your speed to pressure the opposing infielder into an error?
Then comes the straw that broke the camel's back. You became a spectator, drifting out to get a closer look at Markakis running in to catch a pop up. Game over; we lose. How basic is it that it's your play until the outfielder calls you off? I guess when you're a "star" you no longer have to concern yourself with things such as fundamentals.
That play also raises the fear that, just as you learned how to be a star from Tejada, Markakis is learning the same thing from you. Who's next? Jones? Reimold? Wieters?
There are so many things in baseball that we can't control that can play a significant role in the outcome of a game: the line drive that hits on the line or an umpire blowing a check swing call (see the Boston game a few nights ago, for example). There is one thing, however, that we can always control and that's our effort. Who knows? That sprint down the line may cause only one error all year but it may be the difference in that game. Isn't that what you get paid to do? Isn't that what we pay to see? Isn't that how your Dad taught you to play?
I love baseball and would have given a lot to have your talent. As a child, like many others growing up in this area (especially back in the days; not so much now, unfortunately), my dream was to play for the Orioles. It irritates the heck out of me to see you (and others), whom God gave that ability, take it for granted. I used to go to several games a year. Now, I go to a few-I still haven't been this year. It's not because I don't want to go to the Yard. I just don't want to go and watch a lack of effort. I remember a comment I read a few years back made by a dad who wouldn't take his kids to see an O's game because he didn't want his boys to think that what they would see was how to pay the game. Pretty sad, isn't it?
Brian, stop acting like a star and start being a star.