I say forced because that's exactly what has happened. Everyone saying Tejada was a big man and went to Astros GM Ed Wade with the information to get a burden off of his chest is full of it. ESPN asked Tejada how old he was. He said 32, referring to his upcoming birthday. They asked when he was born. "Dominican Republic. Bani." That was his reply.
He was presented with his birth certificate from the Dominican government, at which point he became upset, said he didn't want to talk about that "stuff," and left the set.
Then -- and only then -- did he approach Wade with the information, because he knew it was going to get out anyway.
Tejada now has quite a history of PR gaffes and strange personality quirks that make him seem a little bit less than a shining example of a good dude. He was given credit as being a team leader in Oakland, which is a big reason the Orioles signed him to a rich free agent deal, and then when things didn't go so well in Baltimore, he moaned and complained to the press, asked for trades, and then when pressed about it, every time he had miraculously been misunderstood. No, not a trade. He wants to stay in Baltimore. He didn't say TRADE, necessarily. He just wants to win.
It always reeked of B.S., and so does this situation.
Listen, I'm not trying to say Tejada didn't have a good reason for doing this 15 years ago. He was, as he said, a poor kid trying to get signed to play baseball in America. He was advised by a coach at age 19 to say he was 17, and that has been the case for numerous players from the Caribbean. I do not really blame Tejada for lying about his age. And he's had a great career, made a ton of money, and will be set for life, which goes for his family, too, which if you know anything about the Dominican people, you know is a very big deal.
But this isn't the first time Tejada has come off in a bad light. It's probably closer to the tenth. He's under scrutiny still thanks to the Mitchell Report, and as good as he was for the Orioles, it doesn't feel like he's a guy we're going to remember all that fondly, which doesn't even have much to do with the teams. Think about Brian Roberts, for instance, who played on the same teams as Miguel and was also named in the Mitchell Report. Roberts could be traded tomorrow and would be immediately missed. Tejada getting traded felt more like a relief than anything else. Even think back to a guy like Randy Milligan, who could walk out onto the field at Camden Yards at a random game to throw out the first pitch and probably get a big ovation (from all 612 fans in attendance -- very vocal fans, by the way, and kudos to those that have gone to the games for bringing their hearts with them).
It also needs to be said that Andy MacPhail's trade of Miggi looks better by the month. The Mitchell Report, this age thing, the fact that Luke Scott is one of three and a half Orioles that have been hitting at all, and then add in the rest of the players we got back, even bum arm Troy Patton.
I don't want this to seem like I dislike Miguel Tejada. I don't, really, and I actually find him very interesting. He seems to take things really personally, has trouble dealing with heat from fans, management or media, and keeps having his name attached to things that ballplayers would rather not be associated. And then you have the fact that he's a hell of a baseball player.
I wished Miguel Tejada all the best when we traded him, and I think most of us did. It was just something that didn't work out all around, and it was time for everyone concerned to part. I still wish him the best, partially because there's something very vulnerable and human about the guy. He does take things personally, he does get upset, he does speak when he probably shouldn't at times, but that makes him a lot more interesting than most players, too.
I don't think he did an outright bad thing in this case -- maybe he did fundamentally, but fundamentals in a case like this don't give you the whole story or even close to it. But he sure didn't do a good thing, either.