This may be my last chance to talk about Erik Bedard while he's still an Oriole. Sure, the trade rumors have been swirling all winter with nothing doing yet. But given Andy MacPhail's stated January 31 deadline, and the discrepancy between his side of the story and Bedard's...I just have a hunch that this is getting done.
To baseball fans around the country, Bedard is known as a rising star. He set the Orioles' single-season record in strikeouts with 221 last year, in just 182 innings. He received Cy Young consideration despite the fact that he missed all of September with an oblique injury and played for a crummy team. Plus, you know, he's left-handed, which sets general managers' hearts a-flutter.
However, many Baltimore fans think of Erik as a surly wiseass. He's known for his frosty relationship with reporters. On the days that he doesn't bolt from the clubhouse before the media even arrives, he'll often respond to queries with curt, one-word responses. Sometimes he'll flat-out tell a reporter that his question is stupid. I'm of two minds about this. There's a part of me that wonders who cares about how "nice" a guy is as long as he gets results on the field. On the other hand, I do think Bedard goes a little far sometimes. He's got to realize that as a top-shelf major league pitcher, he's a public figure and people are going to *gasp* pay attention to what he does and says.
Some fans whispered that Bedard was soft last year, that a muscle strain in his ribcage was a poor excuse for shutting himself down while his team struggled to find healthy arms. That's a dangerous road to walk, because most athletes work through pain that you or I couldn't imagine. Only Bedard can really know how much pain he's in, when it comes right down to it.
I was annoyed when I first read Bedard's comments in the Baltimore Sun on Friday. It's hard to hear a pitcher who's had half of the teams in baseball drooling over him, a guy who's in line for a major pay day, complain of being "unwanted". But more and more, I'm taking what I know about him and coming to the conclusion that he's playing a game with the media for old time's sake. I just don't see how he could call the Miguel Tejada trade a surprise with a straight face. He also claims that the team hasn't showed interest in signing him to an extension, when his agent admits that the team floated the idea of a contract extension.
I'm sure there's some part of Erik Bedard that has enjoyed his time in Baltimore and will miss his teammates and coaches. But he's going to a better place, and I think he's protesting a bit too much to actually be serious in his remarks. We'll have to wait and see who has the last laugh.