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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Out With the Old (or BMore Careful)

The flip side of picking other teams heroes

2008 is the year Baltimore sports teams shed itself of other cities former heroes. Two former MVP's, Steve McNair and Miguel Tejada, that were supposed to bring both leadership and strength of character to teams that had a hard time identifying a leader. One proved successful, in a 'flash in the pan' kind of way. The other only showed his ass.

True, the Ravens had and have Ray Lewis who undoubtedly is the heart and soul of the defense. He and his defensive teammates have also been relied upon to inspire the offense as well, year after year. The Ravens defied the odds, in 2001, and won Super Bowl XXXV with more defense than offense. They have not been able to repeat that accomplishment, however, and the inability of Coach Brian Billick to develop a Quarterback to lead the Ravens cost him his job.

In football, teams need an offensive leader. With the exception of a few Running Backs most teams rely on the Quarterback to fill the shoes of team leader. Someone who is polarizing and can find ways to win games, despite insurmountable odds.

The Ravens picked up a former league MVP, Steve McNair, a couple of seasons ago to fill that role and the players responded with the best record in team history. They were energized and jacked up. Then, the following season, the wheels fell off just as quickly when the physical Quarterback's body failed him. Years of physical pounding, in Houston and Tennessee, took it's toll on him and he was unable to play at the level he was used to.

Today, McNair announced his retirement. As like many other professional athletes, he still has the will and desire to go on; just not the ability. He can leave the game, however, with his head held high and no one blames him for it.

The unfortunate thing for Baltimore fans is that McNair becomes another in a long line of veteran Quarterbacks that have come to town and not been able to find the old formula for success they used to possess.

In a tale of two cities, that is actually only one, The Orioles have a different story. After the retirement of Cal Ripken Jr., in 2001, the Orioles needed a central figure to rally around too. They brought in former MVP, Miguel Tajada. Tajada was and still is a very talented player who, at times, still shows his old form.

What the Orioles didn't count on was Tejada's knack for pouting when the team was not successful. Then there was finger pointing. Then there was not running out pop flies. Then there was asking to be traded. Then there was stating that it was all a misunderstanding and that he wanted, more than anything, to play for the Orioles. Then there was asking to be traded again. Then there was the accusation from one of the most popular players in recent team history, Raphael Palmerio, that Tejada may have given him steroids in the guise of a B12 shot. Then there was the response that he was unfairly being associated with Palmerio's problems. Then there was an inquiry by Congress in which he stated that he had nothing to do with steroids or Palmerio's positive results. Then there was finally the trade that sent him packing to Houston for 6 prospects (Revenge for the Glen Davis trade years earlier). Then there was... what was it? ...Oh yeah! being accused of taking STEROIDS in the Mitchell Report.

Today, Miguel Tejada acknowledged that he lied about his age and that he was actually 2 years older than he had reported when he joined the league. He said it was weighing heavily on his conscious and he wanted to clear the air. This coming only after ESPN showed him a copy of his birth certificate during an interview in which he stormed out of.

Miguel Tejada is a looser and a liar and Baltimore Sports fans should be glad to be rid of him. The Houston Astros should demand to re-work his contract since they were expecting a player with more longevity. Tejada says he feels like a 25 year old. He wouldn't be lying about that... would he?