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December 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm ET
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Gettin’ Physical With Grant Balfour

What do Xavier Hernandez, Aaron Sele and Grant Balfour have in common?

They all failed the Famous Baltimore Orioles Physical.

Balfour is the latest would-be Oriole to flunk his test. The O’s docs said his shoulder doesn’t warrant two years and $15 million. Balfour’s agent immediately snapped into action to let baseball know he’s not damaged goods, getting Tampa Bay Rays team doc Koko Eaton to say Balfour’s MRI looks the same today as it did in 2011.

But nobody conducts a physical like the Orioles. When “pending a physical exam” seems like formality, it’s not. Years ago, Hernandez and Sele both had deals done, handshakes all around. And then … not. Baltimore Sun writer Dan Connolly wrote something funny today; a former O’s free agent undergoing an Orioles physical could’ve sworn Baltimore’s doctors would take him out to Pimlico and have him a run a couple furlongs. (My money’s on Kevin Millar for that quote, by the way.)

The O’s traded closer Jim Johnson to Oakland. Dan Duquette sat and watched  the free agent market unfold and insisted he’s really excited about  David Lough, Francisco Peguero and a Rule V guy. I hate to say it – no, I REALLY hate to say it – but this has a familiar ring to it. During the 15 years of putrid, non-competitive baseball in Baltimore that preceded this nice little interlude of over .500 O’s baseball, these are exactly the kinds of winters fans came to expect.

I got into an argument with a loudmouth at a Baltimore farmer’s market Saturday morning about whether the Orioles would ever win under the ownership of Peter G. Angelos, attorney at law.

“They’ll never win anything as long as Angelos owns the team,” the loudmouth bleated when he saw my O’s hat.

“I disagree with that,” I said, just because the guy was a loudmouth.

“Well, I don’t.”

“No, I know you don’t. You said it. You can’t agree with yourself.”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

See, now I’m in a position where I’m defending Angelos. Let me tell you, that’s a crummy way to start a Saturday.

I always imagine the Orioles free agent physicals are like the drunk test in Steve Martin’s “The Man With Two Brains.”

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