• Apr

    Why I like this job

    Let’s be honest here, I started this site back in 1996 as a hobby. My first interview with an Orioles minor leaguer was John Parrish in Fayetteville, North Carolina through the bullpen fence during a game. Let’s just say that’s not exactly the most professional way of doing an interview. Funny thing, Parrish always reminds me that he was my first interview.


    In case you were wondering, Josh McNatt was the other player I interviewed that day and at the time, was considered the much better prospect.


    Through the years the hobby turned into a passion and then into a business. I started off doing everything from the HTML work to the game reports to all the news. Little by little I took on help to keep things up with Kerry Leibowitz, Richard Legendre, John Domen and of course our current Managing Editor Scott Hoffman doing much more of the editing work thus allowing me to focus on other things.


    As we grew in size of audience (from maybe a 20 people a day visiting to over 18,000 a day) the work of keeping the Hangout going has been at times excruciating. Anyone who knows me knows that I take great pride in what the Hangout has become, but more so, I believe there’s a responsibility to keep the Hangout product at a certain level. Whether that means making sure we have timely coverage or ensuring we have the right amount of server speed and bandwidth, it meant a lot of my time and effort went into the admin side of things, and not the production of content.


    So why do I do it?


    Despite what some people seem to believe, it’s not for the money. After paying out server costs, upkeep, and paying for the staff, I’m not going to be buying that shore home on the bay anytime soon. Besides, as we grow, I invest most of the money back into the site.


    So then you ask again, why do you do it? What keeps you going?


    Without a doubt the one thing that keeps me going more than anything is going down to the minor leagues and scouting baseball. I love sitting behind home plate while watching for the nuances of players. What kind of stuff does the pitcher have, does he command his pitches, is the batter struggling against the inside fastball or can he lay off the outside slider, what kind of arm does the right fielder have, did he take the correct route on the ball in the gap, does the shortstop have the first step quickness to play short and even more importantly does he have the arm to stay there in the bigs?


    Add that in to talking baseball with scouts and other baseball personnel during games, and it starts to make all those night of making hours and hours of phone calls while trying to figure out why certain members can’t get into our plus area when other members can, worth it.


    I’m lucky that over the years I’ve developed good relationships with a lot of baseball people in and out of the Orioles organization. Last night in Bowie, I froze along with Tripp Norton (Orioles Assistant Director of Minor League Operations) and Kevin Ibach (Orioles Baseball Operations Assistant) as we watched Nolan Reimold hit a tremendous home run to center field off a wayward changeup and laughed about the new “Bristles” hitting on some girls in the front row while reminiscing about the flamboyant original “Bristles” of years ago (True story: I once knew of a $20 bounty for any pitcher who would “Bull Durham” the giant toothbrush guy while he cleaned off home plate between innings. Unfortunately it was never collected).


    After the game I caught up a bit with manager Bien Figueroa who I’ve known for years, said a quick hello to Butch Davis and introduced myself to Mo Hill before talking a bit with Scott McGregor about Adam Loewen while we watched the end of the Orioles game. It’s about that time that I realize why I do this. I love going to the minor leagues because where else can you chat with a former 20-game winner in the “MFL” while watching the end of the Orioles game?


    Some quick initial thoughts about Bowie after watching them on opening night


    -         Nolan Reimold still has that tremendous bat speed and a rocket launcher on his right shoulder that most people call an arm. At the same time, he still seems to outguess himself and gets behind in the count by taking too many good pitches. The strike zone last night got wider and wider as it got colder and colder so that certainly did not help, but after he hit the home run and double which he hit on a change up and curveball respectively, he seemed to get too passive at the plate. I truly think he’ll get away from this with more experience and his strikeouts will drop.

    -         Brandon Sing has a very, very big swing. He’s going to hit some homers because he generates a lot of power with those long arms of his, but he’ll need to cut down on that swing if he’s going to have any success above Double-A.

    -         The team does not have a ton of prospects on the club. Offensively, Reimold is the only guy with an upside although Jeff Fiorentino and Val Majewski could still become something and Paco Figueroa may work his way into a utility job one day.

    -         Speaking of Fiorentino, he still has that stance where he crowds the plate and pulls off everything. The only way he goes to left field is when he flicks one the other way, but there’s no authority in that swing to any other field then right field. I know he’s a bit of a slow starter, but he does not look comfortable at the plate right now.

    -         Majewski has a better approach at the plate and looks bigger and stronger than Fiorentino, but he’s not hitting the ball with any authority either.

    -         Freddy Deza hit 96 MPH several times last night, but he hangs his slider too much and pitches too much in the middle of the plate for my liking.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.