Today was Homecoming at my high school, the first such event I'd attended in four years. Despite the fact that I stood in soaking rain and persistent winds for three hours, it was good to be back. The football team won 26-8, with the lone opposition touchdown coming in garbage time. I got to reconnect with some old friends, exchange pleasantries with other familiar faces, and take advantage of cheap beer and free food at the post-game alumni reception. Sometimes you can go home again.
Adam Loewen is going home again. In the above picture, he's wearing an Orioles hat but a Futures Game World team uniform. The photo is a few years old, and features Adam representing his native Canada in a minor league All-Star Game. I mentioned back in July that the 24-year-old was bringing an end to his injury-riddled career as a pitcher, attempting to retrain himself as an outfielder/first baseman. The problem was that he had insisted on signing a guaranteed major league contract when the O's drafted him; in order to continue his apprenticeship as a hitter in 2009, Adam would have to be put on waivers, pass through unclaimed, and then receive his release from the Orioles. There seemed to be a mutual agreement that the team would re-sign him at that point to a minor league deal. Just such a thing happened over the past few days...except that after being released, Loewen signed with the Blue Jays.
I'm somewhat baffled by the vitriol that a number of fans have shown in the wake of Adam's departure. Sure, he left the Birds holding the bag. But his future is extremely uncertain right now, and if he's going to take such a shot in the dark in order to continue his career in professional baseball, it makes sense that he would want to have some level of comfort, some chance to be close to home. Everyone agrees that there's very little chance that he'll be the next Rick Ankiel, a failed pitcher who climbs his way back and becomes a major-league caliber hitter. So what's the big deal? Now he's given us a way out. This isn't anything close to Rafael Palmeiro or Mike Mussina skipping town for the big bucks. It's just a young man at a crossroads hoping against hope that he'll get a chance to represent his homeland on the biggest stage of them all.
I hope that Adam Loewen's homecoming is a happy one. Either way, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.