Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Terry Crowley, 1982 Topps #232
It's hard to believe that Crowley maintained his post through a dozen years of losing, outlasting five managers and one interim skipper. Pro sports are known for the impermanence of coaching jobs, especially when on-field results are poor. In this case, the O's ranked in the bottom half of the American League in OPS in 8 of the last 12 seasons, and were in the bottom half in runs scored 11 times. The sole exception was 2004, when they were an underwhelming sixth-best with 842 runs. Even that little bit of mediocrity took career years from Miguel Tejada and Melvin Mora and a strong effort from Javy Lopez...it was an expensive sixth-place finish.
It's hard to figure out just how much of the blame Crow deserves for the Birds' anemic offense through the years. Some of the best hitters he's coached, including Nick Markakis, rave about his tutelage. But isn't it possible that Markakis is a star because he's talented, and not because of the coaching he's received? Besides, his career hasn't progressed the way most expected; his home runs and OPS have dropped since peaking at .897 in 2008. Besides, Nick himself publicly questioned the offensive approach of his teammates last June, saying that it looked like they had no plan. Shouldn't Crowley be held responsible?
Some might say that you couldn't expect a hitting coach to make chicken salad out of chicken crap, and the Geronimo Gils and Deivi Cruzes of the world are more the latter. But the best coaches coax lesser players to perform above their talent level, don't they?
I'm asking questions, and I don't have many answers. I'm sure Terry Crowley is a great guy, and he certainly has his fans in the game of baseball. But I'm perfectly happy to give someone else a chance to go to work with Baltimore's batters.