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Joe Altobelli


FanSince88

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I've been watching some clips of the Orioles 1983 World Series. As my username implies, I didn't become a fan of the team until 1988.

Am curious as to what peoples' impressions are/were of the manager at the time, Joe Atobelli. Specifically, why was he fired in mid-1985 just a year and a half after the world series championship, despite the team being 8 games over .500 in 84 and two games over 500 in mid-1985 when he was let go. I realize that expectations may have been high for the team after their title but the 83 team had a lot of role players and one could argue that it was the managing that got them to the championship in the first place. It just doesn't seem to add up to me and I'm wondering if anyone a bit older than me remembers what happened.

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Right or wrong, the general impression has always been that the 1983 team "managed itself". Composed primarily of savvy veterans near the end of their careers who knew this year was their absolute last chance, and a wise beyond his years second year MVP named Ripken.

Also, the owner, Edward Bennet Williams, had little respect for Altobelli. Once famously called him a "cement head".

In hindsight and with the perspective of time, its very easy to see that the team all got old at the same time, the farm system had deteriorated drastically, and patchwork free agents like Lynn and Lacey were not enough.

But at the time, the notion that the great Oriole farm system which had produced so much talent for so long, was incomprehensible. A team that had essentially had a winning record for over 20 straight years save for a couple late 60s injury disasters, suddenly was losing. And the easiest, most obvious thing to blame was the fact that we had replaces a HOF manager with a guy who wasn't up to the task, rather than come to a full understanding of the systemic issues that led to the collapse. So when an opportunity to bring back that Hall if Famer came up - how do you not give it a try?

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Right or wrong, the general impression has always been that the 1983 team "managed itself". Composed primarily of savvy veterans near the end of their careers who knew this year was their absolute last chance, and a wise beyond his years second year MVP named Ripken.

Also, the owner, Edward Bennet Williams, had little respect for Altobelli. Once famously called him a "cement head".

In hindsight and with the perspective of time, its very easy to see that the team all got old at the same time, the farm system had deteriorated drastically, and patchwork free agents like Lynn and Lacey were not enough.

But at the time, the notion that the great Oriole farm system which had produced so much talent for so long, was incomprehensible. A team that had essentially had a winning record for over 20 straight years save for a couple late 60s injury disasters, suddenly was losing. And the easiest, most obvious thing to blame was the fact that we had replaces a HOF manager with a guy who wasn't up to the task, rather than come to a full understanding of the systemic issues that led to the collapse. So when an opportunity to bring back that Hall if Famer came up - how do you not give it a try?

Thanks for that. Was wondering that myself over the years.

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I give the men credit, regardless of how he did it, he got the WS trophy, greater men have failed.

But, my memory of that ERA, most people didn't think too highly of man, he didn't have a lot of respect for his baseball knowledge. Not like Buck and Weaver, and others.

People liked the guy, he was a good guy and not a butt-wipe like some guys can be. Of course, just my opinion and memory.

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Thanks for the feedback. It's so interesting to put it in historical perspective.

Just as an aside, was there ever a better baseball broadcast team than Al Michaels, Howard Cosell, and Earl Weaver (the 3 guys who called the 83 WS...plus Reggie Jackson doing the pregame show and commentary)? And what an interesting series to watch. Don't know how they managed to steal Game 3 of that series...looked like they were in deep trouble after Flanny gave up two early HRs. But Ayala and the "little tiger" (as Cosell affectionately called him) Dempsey came through.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Boddicker was great that year. I believe he won game 2 after we had lost the first one. To me, him winning game 2 was the big one. For two years, he was as good as Palmer, Mussina, or any other pitcher we ever had. At least, that's the way I remember it.

He was our last 20 game winner.

When he came up in '83, he was so freaking good. Without looking it up I think he had 5 or 6 shutouts.

He was the stopper in both the ALCS and the WS. Boddicker's game 2 of the ALCS was truly an all time great postseason performance. Complete game shutout, struck out 14 White Sox. I think that was an ALCS record that stood till Mussina broke it in '97 vs Cleveland.

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I think there were a lot of similarities between Altobelli and Sam Perlozzo. Both were considered good guys, both considered good "baseball guys." I don't think either were going to be mistaken for great strategists or leaders. Sometimes good baseball men can be promoted out of their strengths.

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Altobelli's move to pinch hit four (!) hitters in a row in the 6th inning (!) in Game 3 was a stroke of genius. It was almost like a line change in hockey! It had the desired effect, as it got one or two runs plated and almost certainly was one of the difference-makers in the game.

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