The events of the last week have conspired to make one thing perfectly clear: it's Brian Roberts' world, and we all just live in it.
On Sunday, he hosted his annual "Brian's Baseball Bash" at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Through ticket sales and the live and silent auctions, over $15,000 was raised to benefit the University of Maryland Hospital for Children.
Of course, Brian's actions on the field always seem to grab the bigger headlines, and with good reason as of late. He's currently in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak, and is batting .392 (20-for-51) with eight doubles, five home runs, and four steals without being caught once. He's gone deep three times and driven in seven runs in the past two games alone, seeming to put the O's onto his back and carry them to victory.
Roberts is having one of the most productive seasons of his career. His 14 home runs and 59 RBI are already second-best to his 2005 campaign, and his 46 doubles continue to lead the major leagues. He's easily on pace to surpass his own club record of 51 two-baggers, and if he does so he would become just the fourth player in major league history with three 50-double seasons. The others are Hall of Famers Tris Speaker (five times), Paul Waner, and Stan Musial. He should also eclipse 100 runs scored (with 91 at present) for the third straight year and fourth overall. As a little icing on the cake, his next stolen base will tie him with Al Bumbry for second-most total swipes in O's team history; Brady Anderson sits on top, another 55 steals away.
With the swift and powerful second baseman continuing to tear through major league and franchise record books, it's astounding to me that he's faced so much scrutiny from the armchair managers of Internet comment threads and radio call-in shows this year. He started 2009 red-hot, and as soon as he began to slump the nay-sayers were bellowing about his lack of focus, his laziness, and even the effects that his brand-new marriage may have had on him. Suddenly, #1 was a bad influence on the promising rookies and younger players on the team. He was somebody who wouldn't be able to contribute to a winning atmosphere. When the Birds lost Wednesday night's game by a score of 3-1, somebody on Camden Chat chose to focus on Brian's double play groundout with the bases loaded even though it was only his fourth GIDP of the year and an unfortunate exception to the best offensive night of any O's player (he doubled and hit a home run to provide their only run). As poorly as the Orioles have played in '09, I wonder what kind of drugs you have to be on to blame a guy with some of the most eye-popping numbers for that failure.
There's a part of me that wonders if Roberts has heard some of the outlandish criticisms that have been aimed at him, and whether it's fueling his fire. If that's the case, maybe you haters should just keep it up. He's more than capable of getting the last word, it would seem.