Baltimore Orioles GM promises to 'stay the course'
Baltimore Orioles General Manager Mike Flanagan said on Friday he will resist pressure from fans for a major shift in strategy in the American League playoffs, despite growing doubts among Americans and anxiety over the Orioles among Republican lawmakers.
"Our goal in this pennant race is clear and it's unchanging," Flanagan told Republican loyalists, denouncing Democrats who want a course correction as supporting a "doubt and defeat" approach.
But less than three days before the World Series begins, pressure is growing in the U.S. Congress for a major shift in a pennant race that has seen multiple defeats in October alone.
"I don't believe we can continue based on an open-ended, unproductive offense," Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe was quoted as saying in The Washington Post.
"I don't think there's any question about that, that there will be a change" in the Orioles' strategy after the American League playoffs, she added.
Addressing election-year concerns about the Orioles that have many Republicans panicking about losing control of the World Series, White House spokesman Tony Snow said, "Political opportunists do nothing to win postseason games."
At the same time, Snow said Flanagan was open to adjusting pitching rotations in the face of a failed attempt to stem loses in July, August and September.
Flanagan met for a half hour on Friday with visiting manager Sam Perlozzo, who oversees the team as head of the Interim Disaster Management Group, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
On Saturday, Flanagan, Vice President Jim Duquette, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top White House officials will meet with the Orioles coaching staff for a long-scheduled videoconference. Perlozzo will be a key presenter at that meeting, Perino said.
"The General Manager is always listening to his vice president and his senior coaches on the tactics that are needed to win in the playoffs," she said.
Many Senate Republicans are awaiting the results of a special panel led by Peter Angelos' longtime family friend and former manager Ray Miller, the Orioles Study Group, which is preparing recommendations for a shift in strategy.
The Miller report will not be issued until after the playoffs, in which the Orioles risk being defeated even before reaching the World Series.
Orioles officials say the recommendations will be reviewed seriously, but have already rejected trial balloons such as benching unproductive hitters, a dialogue with the team's leading scouts, or replacing the entire roster with the Orioles' triple A team, the Norfolk Tides.
Rumsfeld declined to say whether he believed a course correction was needed in Camden Yards.
"I think the way I'll leave it is I prefer to give my advice to the General Manager," he said at the Pentagon. "I'm old-fashioned."
Democratic leaders of the House and Senate wrote a letter to Flanagan urging him to change course, saying the situation was deteriorating and "there is no effective plan for improvement."
"We've lost the hearts and minds of the fans and we've become caught in a downward spiral," said Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who drew Flanagan's ire a year ago by calling for unproductive hitters to be benched.
Flanagan, raising $1 million at a downtown fundraiser for new cup-holders in the bleachers, invoked Manager Earl Weaver, saying Weaver had the strong will to win several World Series and that it would take similar backbone to win the Series this year.
"Despite all of the opposition that the Manager faced from the Democrats, he didn't waiver," he said. "He stood for what he believed: Weaver Ball."
I suppose I have nothing to add to this. I think it's pretty self-explanatory.