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JimF
02-23-00, 07:26 PM
<font size="+1"><center><u>Caution: New manager inherits $70 million chemistry experiment</font></center></u>


<font size="1">Feb. 23, 2000
By Marcus Carmouche
SportsLine Staff Writer</font>


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It's a strange feeling for Mike Hargrove.

Every morning for the past week, he has slipped on an Orioles black jersey instead of his customary Indians blue on his way to practice. His ears have heard reporters speak of his new team as "underachieving" rather than "division winner," which has been the norm the past five seasons.

"Yeah, I would say it's a little different being with a new organization after being in Cleveland so long," Hargrove said. "But I'm happy to be a part of the Baltimore Orioles organization. I'm excited about the new challenge ahead."

For the past 8 seasons, Hargrove built the Cleveland Indians into one of baseball's most consistent powerhouses.

The Indians were literally as horrible as the team depicted in the wacky Major League trilogy until Hargrove led them to their first AL pennant in 41 years in 1995. A string of four more division titles and two World Series appearances would follow.

But it wasn't enough as Hargrove was ushered out the door after last season without so much as a thank you.

"The expectations were a bit high in Cleveland, perhaps too high and unrealistic," Hargrove said. "From where we began when I got there to the point we were last season, winning the division title and making the playoffs was seen as a failure."

Failure has been something the Orioles have become accustomed to the past two seasons.

In Cleveland, Hargrove had the satisfaction of watching his players developed into a championship caliber team. With the O's, he is in charge of a group that should be accused of fraud for the way they duped Baltimore CEO Peter Angelos into dumping more than $70 million in salary a year ago.

"Playing against them the last couple of years, there is not a doubt about the talent level on this roster," Hargrove said. "For some reason, it just hasn't work out."

That's where Hargrove comes in. Talent wise, Baltimore could compare to just about any team. But from a chemistry standpoint, they were an ill-gotten experiment.


With the addition of Albert Belle, the O's thought they had finally landed their power-hitter. But the only hits Belle generated last season were on his website, to which he referred all media questions.
Cal Ripken is coming off back surgery and said he expects to be an everyday player. The only platoon Ripken wants to hear about is in reference to the 1986 Academy Award winner.
Brady Anderson is still caught up in the euphoria of 1996 when he hit 50 home runs. He hasn't come close to that mark since, and in a leadoff role in '98, he struck out 78 times and batted .236.

"The new season is a new starting point," Ripken said. "That's the beauty of the season; there are a lot of things that are unpredictable. Each season brings new hope, new life."

The life was out of Baltimore by midseason the past two years. To keep this fragile bunch from tanking it the way they did with the fired Ray Miller, Hargrove will have to be as cunning and deceptive in the clubhouse as he is on the diamond.

Not to mention the O's play in the AL East -- home to the juggernaut Yankees, Boston Red Sox and free-agent improved Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Hargrove wanted a challenge. He has certainly gotten that with Baltimore. Nonetheless, it's business as usual though the surroundings and uniform have changed.

"My goal every year is to win the World Series," Hargrove said.

For a city that hasn't hosted the Series since 1983 and a manager who has yet to win it all, that would be a strange feeling indeed.

MAFIA
02-24-00, 08:31 AM
HARGROVE know's the game, he was a very good hitter and 1b in his day for pathetic CLEVELAND teams. THOSE cleveland teams he coached he turned them right around bringing up the NAGY'S AND THE THOME'S he did a good job rebuilding and HART did a great job signing them cheap and for long term at the time. THE problem is over the last few year years was there pitching, they had no starters maybe 2 NAGY AND COLON, BURBA at times was good, but there starting and relief killed them, he was the fall guy in CLEVELAND, I DON'T think MURRAY can do better.

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bxny
02-24-00, 05:25 PM
Hargrove is a BIG improvement from Ray Miller, but he went from being the manager of the best team in the AL Central, with an automatic playoff spot, to a team that will be doing well if they finish fourth in the East. I like Baltimores starting pitching, but the rest of their team is old. I'd like to see Hargrove lead the O's back to respectability. With Toronto, the Sox, the improved Rays, the Yanks, and if the O's can get it together, the AL East should have some great baseball.

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MAFIA
02-24-00, 06:04 PM
TRUE, I think HARGROVE will do a good job, MILLER is a great pitching coach not a mgr. that really killed BALTIMORE.

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CalifYanksFan
02-24-00, 06:51 PM
I like Mike Hardgrove and I agree he's a big improvement over Miller. However, I wish him all the luck he had with Cleveland landing a world series ring. http://www.Bronx-Bombers.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

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Russ
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