The initial media blitzkreig surrounding Roy Oswalt's trade request—or whatever it was—nearly two weeks ago have finally died down. Sure, the speculation about where he will end up, etc. still abounds, but not so much the reaction to the idea that Roy Oswalt will be traded by the Astros to greener pastures. By virtue of my travel schedule, I was unable to really weigh in on the breaking news with anything substantive, and have actually succeeded in not really analyzing the heart of the matter.
Over the last few days, though, I have found myself baited into doing just that—especially after Roy Oswalt got himself ejected from Monday's game. My initial reaction was that I do not blame Oswalt for wanting out of Houston. If I were a wrong side of thirty pitcher with a small window left on anchoring a team to a World Series victory, the Astros would be one of the last teams I wanted to be on. That's a totally legitimate desire.
For all that Roy Oswalt has done for my baseball fanhood over the last decade, how could I possibly begrudge the man? Over the last few days, though, I have found a way to begrudge the man.
When Oswalt initially responded to the media about the nature of his request/inquiry/just-general-conversation-that-was-totally-misconstrued-when-it-somehow-got leaked-to-a-Chicago-beat-writer, he took offense to the implication that he had become a bad clubhouse personality. He of course also didn't make an argument that contained a consistent logical thread about why he wanted out of Houston, but I took him at his word on the former. The man has built a lot of ethos up over the years.
The more I have let the whole ordeal marinate in the back of my mind, the more and more I grow to mildy resent Oswalt for his behavior in this endeavor of his. I think we all have taken note of the far more overt dismay that Roy has exuded from the mound this year when things are not going his way and he less than 50% responsible for that fact. Gamethread after gamethread has seen this meme get bounced around. This meme obviously culminated with Oswalt losing it on the mound on Monday, getting himself eject, and then adding more unnecessary strain on the bullpen.
In 2008 I sat at a game with my good friend who is not a baseball geek like us. When Adam Dunn came to bat against Roy with bases loaded, I warned my friend that a grandslam was imminent. Dunn crushed the ball. But what did Roy do? He kept his composure and went right back to work. On Monday, I couldn't help but wonder what happened to that Roy Oswalt? The lovable guy who owes his career to spark plug and just really wanted a bulldozer more than anything else.
I can't pretend to know just how cutthroat Roy Oswalt is being in efforts to abandon the sinking ship that is the Astros. What I do know is that so far Oswalt has continued to up his terrible body language on the mound, severely undercut Ed Wade's leverage in a trade, and yet to really own up as to why he wants out of Houston.
What I see in all of this—from the outside looking in—is that after the dust has settled, Oswalt does not appear to be handling himself in the same professional, endearing manner in which he has conducted the rest of his career, and that bothers me.
The several pieces of evidence I have amassed to justify my opinion of Oswalt was crystalized for me when I read Lance Berkman's quote about Brett Myers' recent outing:
He has a perfect attitude for what you're looking for in a pitcher. If he loses 2-1 win, he's always blaming himself and takes responsibility... The day he pitches he's focused, he's intense and I think the team feeds on that. I think the team takes the personality of the that day's starter, and he does a great job of bringing that intensity to the ballclub.
Coming the day after Oswalt's meltdown, I can't help be read into the quotes a veiled dig at Roy. Again, perhaps I am off the mark, but there seems to be a preponderance of evidence to suggest that Roy Oswalt isn't being the Roy Oswalt we have come to respect. What worries me is that I won't be able to root and cheer for the man like I would hope to when the dust has truly settled on this entire situation, and Roy is donning another uniform. Why? Because there is already bitter taste that is creeping into the back of my mouth and I fear that by the time Roy gets traded that his passive-agressive antics will have made him truly distasteful to me.