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THE DUKE OF BALTIMORE

By Murray Chass

September 21, 2014

The Baltimore Orioles are American League East champions for the first time since 1997, and that’s not all they have accomplished under Dan Duquette, their chief baseball executive.

In his three years in that position – don’t dare call him general manager because the team’s principal owner, Peter Angelos detests that title and becomes irate if anyone uses it in relation to the Orioles but more about that later – Duquette has headed the once glorious but fallen Orioles back toward their many years of glory.

The Orioles have attained winning records in each of Duquette’s three seasons. The franchise had gone through eight – excuse the expression – general managers since the last time it had three full seasons with more wins than losses. The Orioles didn’t even achieve a three-year winning streak in the three-year term of Hall of Famer Pat Gillick.

Angelos, who won the Orioles in a 1993 bankruptcy auction, has gone through nine general manager types, one before Gillick and six more between Gillick and Duquette.

The last general manager to oversee three consecutive winning 162-game seasons was Hank Peters, who attained that distinction in the first half of the ‘80s. Roland Hemond, Gillick, Frank Wren, Syd Thrift, Jim Beattie, Mike Flanagan, Jim Duquette (Dan’s cousin) and Andy MacPhail had their chances and failed.

Dan Duquette, known in baseball circles as Duke, has achieved another Angelos-era distinction – peaceful co-existence with the owner. For example, even though the Orioles won a division title under Gillick in 1997, he left after he completed his contract a year later, having had his fill of Angelos interference.

MacPhail served as president of baseball operations with an advantage over his predecessors, Having held a similar position with the Chicago Cubs, MacPhail had served with Angelos on management’s labor committee for the 2006 collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

As friendly as their relationship might have become, MacPhail left the Orioles after the 2011 season when his contract expired. A month later Duquette was hired, ending his involuntary 11-year hiatus from Major League Baseball.

“From ‘66 to ‘83 the Orioles were the winningest organization in the majors,” Duquette said, responding to my comment about the Orioles once having the best organization. “We’ve been able to reclaim our place with the old Orioles teams. The resilience of the players and their attitude to do what it takes to win games are responsible.”

So are manager Buck Showalter and Duquette…

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TIME TO CASHIER CASHMAN

By Murray Chass

September 17, 2014

There is no doubt in my mind or most likely in anyone else’s, even Brian Cashman’s, that if George Steinbrenner were alive and running the Yankees, he would have fired Cashman by now. And if not by now, tomorrow.

Cashman has benefited more from Steinbrenner’s demise than anyone else I can think of. I’m sure he knows it, too, though he declined, by his failure to return telephone calls, to discuss it.

“Let me check for you,” the general manager’s secretary said when I called Monday, then came back a minute later and said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Chass, I couldn’t locate him.”

The first thing a secretary learns is to …

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A’S SUFFER ATTACK OF Z’S

By Murray Chass

September 14, 2014

Only a few weeks ago the Oakland Athletics and the Milwaukee Brewers could have justifiably begun making post-season plans that didn’t include cruises on the Mediterranean and hunting in Montana. Baseball games in October would have been the idea.

Now the Athletics and the Brewers are in jeopardy of not even gaining wild-card spots in the playoffs, the perilous pleasure of potentially playing one game and going home.

The Detroit Tigers face a similar quandary, though they seem to have short-circuited their tailspin and have at least a fighting chance to win the division title that had been conceded to them before the season began.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile, were doing their utmost to justify their general manager’s cautionary concern that he expressed two weeks ago, before the San Francisco Giants slashed the Dodgers’ lead over them from …

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