Off-season moves by management and a hot start had Oriole fans all abuzz. Positive, but somewhat unrealistic, expectations were pouring in from fans and local sports talking heads. Now, 15 games in and three games below .500, the ship is sinking fast. During spring training, the usual suspects called Baltimore-area sports shows predicting 90 wins or more with a possible wild card spot. Seven games in and we’re winning the division. Where are we now Oriole fans? An eight-game slump and you guys are jumping ship faster than Manny Ramirez after his second positive.
Oriole optimism beyond a .500 season is asking for disappointment. Don’t forget, an 81-81 season is a huge improvement, and 15 games in isn’t time to give up. I could understand fan skepticism if there wasn’t so much optimism five minutes ago. Oriole management has dealt us a crappy hand for 13 years, and that taste will linger for some time. But this season, I believe, is the first real effort at building a team.
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Now is time for realistic optimism. Unlike past years, the only fading star is Vladimir Guerrero. He should fill his role this season as clean up hitter and then be on his way. The new-look infield, hopefully, is built to last few seasons. At first glance, Derrek Lee would seem to be a one-year rental, except first basemen regularly play to 40. Lee, who’s only 35, could play a few more seasons, if his health allows. He’s a gold-glove caliber fielder who brings a veteran presence with some offensive power. On the left side, we have J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds, who will, hopefully, be longtime Orioles. Our returning players are just hitting their prime. The pitching staff is so young I suggest an antacid while watching games. Buck Showalter is not going to let a losing streak, two weeks in, grind our season to a halt.
So, fans, please stay on board, and enjoy the ups and downs. Be grateful that we can watch this pitching staff struggle, grow and succeed together. Watch Buck push these guys to their full potential. Finishing this season at .500 and on an upswing will make Baltimore attractive for free agents. I won’t get too ahead of myself, but I’m willing to say I believe a team is being built to last, and that’s what O’s fans have been missing.
To all the talking heads that suddenly are soothsayers, shut up. Really, you say nothing while the O’s are in spring training or starting the season hot. Now, I hear things like “I’m not going to be popular for saying this but …” But what? So, you know something after it happens. Big deal. You didn’t have the stones to say anything before, but now that the fans are deflated, you’re going to open your mouth? How nice it must be to get paid for an opinion after the fact. Thanks Captain Obvious; maybe next time grow a pair and say something when it might actually stir up some conversation.