The Grant Balfour-Orioles Dispute: Who's To Blame?
Teams, agents and players all benefit from stories of signings being leaked unless something unexpected like this happens. Because the Orioles were under scrutiny for their lack of spending this winter, the signing of Balfour tamped down fan anger slightly in spite of Balfour being an average closer who won’t make much difference to a team like the Orioles one way or the other. At least they did something. The agents and players benefit because once the story is public, it’s harder for a team to do what the Orioles did and back out. But that’s a dual-edged sword. It rarely happens, but sometimes there are reasons that deals fall apart. In this case it did. The Orioles don’t owe Balfour anything. It’s not fair to Balfour that this is out there, but if he’s as healthy as he claims to be, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about, should there? He should sign with a team and shove it to the Orioles, right?
But it’s being blotted out that maybe there is something wrong. If Balfour goes to the mound at some point in 2014 and blows out his shoulder, will there still be this vitriol against Duquette and the Orioles? Or will there be a repeat of what happened with Clemens as people quietly acknowledge that Duquette was right and he wasn’t simply being vindictive to cover himself? Will there be retractions or will it just be swept away and ignored in lieu of that acceptance that there was no vendetta? Maybe it should be taken at face value. It was a medical report the Orioles didn’t like. They decided not to sign Balfour because of it. That’s their right and they don’t have to explain themselves for exercising it.