Just to summarize quickly, because otherwise I would have to excerpt a large Jerry Crasnick story and that's not kosher, even on the Internet and also I really like Jerry Crasnick, so please read his story that I will link to in a minute ...
1. Dontrelle Willis used to be really good.
2. Then Dontrelle Willis was really terrible, perhaps because of an anxiety disorder.
3. Then Dontrelle Willis sort of wasn't so terrible any more.
4. Then Dontrelle Willis signed with the Phillies, but got cut during spring training.
5. Then Dontrelle Willis signed with the Orioles, who thought he might become a good left-handed relief pitcher.
6. Then Dontrelle Willis, unhappy about being a minor-league reliefer rather than a minor-league starter, left his minor-league team.
Which is where we are now, with the complication that Willis and his agent say Willis had permission to quit, while Orioles general manager Dan Duquette says Willis went AWOL.
Got all that? Okay, here's Jerry Crasnick:
Pitcher Dontrelle Willis is filing a grievance against the Baltimore Orioles, alleging that the club placed him on the restricted list and is preventing him from signing with another organization even though he left the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate with the consent of a team official.
Willis received permission from Tripp Norton, Baltimore's director of baseball administration, before leaving the Norfolk Tides last Wednesday, said agent Matt Sosnick.
As long as Willis remains on the restricted list, he can't sign with another club without Baltimore receiving compensation. Sosnick said Duquette has not returned his phone calls, and that the Orioles are holding Willis "hostage" by refusing to discuss the matter.
"Dan has said nobody gave Dontrelle permission," Sosnick told ESPN.com. "Dan knows that's not true. I can't imagine making this kind of deal over something so trivial. We're talking about a minor league player that Baltimore has relatively no financial investment in whatsoever. It's the dumbest thing ever and a waste of everybody's time. Dan has had a thousand chances to ratchet this down a notch, and all he's done is ratchet it up."
Really, this is juicy agent-on-GM stuff and you should read Crasnick's whole story, especially for the payoff off at the very end, which Crasnick wisely delivers with a straight face, no commentary necessary for the discerning fan.
It's hard to see this whole story ending well, but then I never expected to see Dontrelle Willis in a major-league rotation again, and that did happen last summer. So we'll just have to wait for the next act in this ongoing drama. It seems certain there will be one.