With a team as young as the Orioles, one of the (many) problems has been the lack of a player to serve as a leader both on and off the field. The O's need someone to lead by example and to make others accountable when they're not giving an honest effort. If recent events have been any indicator, it looks like Nick Markakis is ready to step into that role.
Last week, the club's star right fielder allowed his frustration to boil over in an interview with the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. He openly questioned the offensive approach of the team without calling attention to specific players, noting that the swing-away philosophy wasn't working and that the successful teams in the division like the Yankees and Red Sox have patient, lengthy at-bats that wear down pitchers and allow them to wait for the right pitch to hit. For a player with a public image of being quiet and unassuming to speak out like that, he has to be frustrated with the status quo. I'm sure it got the attention of his peers.
Then two days ago, Nick requested a one-on-one meeting with owner Peter Angelos to discuss the direction of the Orioles. They ended up talking for three hours over lunch, with Markakis expressing the need for the young players on the team to have the support of a handful of productive, proven veterans. He also explicitly stated his desire to assume a leadership role on the team. However, actions speak louder than words. For all of the gripes about Angelos' meddlesome reputation as an owner, he has been notably hands-off with the players themselves. It's believed that the summit with Markakis was his first one-on-one meeting with a player since he and Melvin Mora discussed a contract extension four years ago. For a player to take the initiative to ask for such a forum with Peter is no small feat.
Not for nothing, but the Birds are 2-0 since the Markakis-Angelos pow-wow. They've come back from a three-run deficit and a six-run deficit, and scored 18 total runs after struggling most nights to push across three or four. I'm just saying.