Forgiving Chris Sabo

Through the years there has been one player I’ve always disliked. When I’d heard his name I’d groan and become irritable. For the past 13 years I’ve always held a grudge against that be-goggled 3rd baseman Chris Sabo.

Sabo signed with the Orioles in 1994 after spending his prior years with the Reds. Now in 1994, that puts me about being 12 years old. I was watching Sportscenter one morning in the living room. More than likely, I was sprawled across the couch still in my pajamas and probably eating what was my third bowl of Cocoa Peebles and working on another can of Pepsi. It was summer vacation, so the mornings were full of watching sports news and getting hopped up on sugar for the day ahead. 

The screen had Sabo’s be-spectacled face in the top left corner and said something like this… or this is what my mind heard them say.

“Chris Sabo is unhappy playing for the Orioles. He hates the town, the team, and everyone who likes them. Sabo, a 7 year veteran, said he wants his release from the O’s and that he actually ate an Oriole for breakfast. He ended his comments by saying ‘I’ve got no time for this, I have to get to the school and steal some fat kids’ lunch money.”

Of course, that’s what it sounded like to me.  I was a kid back then. I knew nothing about contract disputes or playing time. I just assumed that since I liked the Orioles that everyone would love playing for them. There was no knowledge about the inner workings of baseball. So if you did not like…. no love..playing for the Orioles,  I disliked…no hated…you. So through that 30 second blurb on the 47th showing of last nights Sportscenter, spawned over a 12 year loathing of Sabo.

 If he didn’t want to be on my favorite team, then he needed to get out of there. It didn’t make sense to me. How could anyone not want to play in Baltimore, especially when Cal Ripken is on your left? I thought Sabo was crazy. He had to be some sort of malcontent or rabble rouser. You’re on a team with Ripken, Harold Baines, Brady Anderson, Mike Mussina, Chris Hoiles, and Rafael Palmerio, what’s not be happy about.

At the end of the season the Orioles opted not to bring him back, especially with the Leo Gomez in the fold, and the White Sox signed him. Fine, I thought. They’ll regret that move. Of course, he was released later by the Sox and finished out the year in St. Louis. That winter he went home to Cincinnati and finished his career out there.

There was a corked bat incident in Cincy and he had his gem of a quote.

His final season was in Cincinnati in 1996. His homecoming did not go as well as he had hoped. In July of that season, Sabo shattered his bat which was filled with cork. As a result of the incident, Sabo received a seven-game suspension.

Sabo maintains that he had never corked a bat in his life. He claimed that the bat in question belonged to another player (whom he would not name). He argued that his performance that season (3HR in 52 games) was hardly “an endorsement of the cork industry.”

From wikpedia

I hadn’t really thought of Sabo in awhile, then a few days ago it came back to me and I thought “Why did I hate him?” So thanks to the magic of the internet, I found this:

Sabo was actually not whiner.

CHRIS SABO doesn’t like riding the bench and has asked the Baltimore Orioles to trade him. Sabo signed a one-year, $2 million contract as a free agent after leaving the Cincinnati Reds. But back problems hit, and he went on the disabled list. His replacement, LEO GOMEZ, took Sabo’s third-base job. (AP)

So what I heard that summer’s morning on Sportscenter was something more like this:

“Chris Sabo wants his release from the Orioles due to a lack of playing time. Sabo, a 7 year veteran, wants to play more than once a week and his feelings are hurt to have someone like Leo Gomez starting in his place.”

In the end, Sabo DID want to play for the Orioles. He wanted to be out there with Cal and the boys. He did want to be on the field and help the Orioles beat the hated Yankees. The only problem was that the Orioles weren’t playing him. He was glued to the bench. But the battle for the 3rd base job was between a flash in the pan by the name of Leo Gomez and a veteran who was near the end of the road in his career.

So I’ve let go of my misplaced loathing. Be free Chris Sabo. Besides as an Oriole fan, I have plenty of subjects of loathing. Loathing Peter Angelos is a full time job.

 Here’s the numbers for Sabo and his replacement, Leo ‘flash in a pan’ Gomez.

Chris Sabo’s numbers

Leo Gomez’s numbers


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