Another September swoon…

September 04, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Don’t look now, but it’s September and the local baseball team is collapsing again.

Another Keystone Cops episode in the bottom of the 9th at Boston earlier today gave the Red Sox an improbable 5-4 win over the Orioles, handing Dave Trembley’s team their 3rd loss in as many days at Fenway and finishing their Tampa/Boston road trip at 0-6.

It was a game the Orioles controlled until the bottom of the 8th and then the world fell apart.


When will it get better?

Next year?

Probably not.

Who’s going to pitch in ’09, Bob Gibson and Vida Blue?

Without an off-season committment to acquiring two or three legitimate major league starters, the O’s won’t improve much next year either.

Make book on that.

And why wouldn’t they go out in the off-season and make pitches – no pun intended – for guys like A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe or Ben Sheets? They created a TV network three years ago that pours money into their coffers in unimaginable numbers and they themselves promised us the TV revenue would go directly into roster improvement. They’re half-swindling a lot of us out of $2.60 a month whether we watch MASN or not – shouldn’t they at least go out and spend OUR money in the fashion they promised?

Yes, they should. And if this off-season comes and goes and they fork over some lame-ass excuse like the one we’ve heard before: “why would we pay $14 million a year for someone who only works once every 5 days?” then Free The Birds3 should take place on opening day.

Now, to be fair, here’s the good stuff.

Despite the September swoon, there have been bright spots this year. And, honestly, the first three months of the campaign gave reason for hope as the team hovered around the .500 mark and played competitively against every team in the American League.

For a while in the late spring, going to the ballpark was exciting again because you were never quite sure if the O’s just might find a way to win even though they trailed 6-2 going into the 7th inning.

Adam Jones was a rock star until he got hurt and even Aubrey Huff made good on his pre-season promise to make us all forget that asinine off-season remark he made about Baltimore. Like him or not, Huff “manned up” in ’08 and could certainly be the team’s MVP this season without much argument from anyone.

Brian Roberts – by far the team’s most valuable ASSET – refused to allow the team’s public attempts to trade him keep him from another good season and Nick Markakis overcame an embarrassing spring training contract snub to produce yet another strong major league campaign.

Somehow, those four guys put together fine ’08 efforts in spite of the fact they’re playing for one of the major’s worst teams.

Hats off to them.

Off the field, there are still issues that need to be addressed. In typical Orioles’ fashion, they may or may not address them in time for the close of the season.

Maybe they’re just waiting for football season to start so they can drop out of the limelight and make their hard decisions in the background. That’s smart, if they’re thinking that way.

They’re stringing along a manager who has been a decent contributor for them over the last 15 months. Why they haven’t publicly disclosed that Dave Trembley’s ’09 contract option has been renewed is a mystery, but it’s always that way with the O’s. They never really clue you in on what’s going on…leaving us all to speculate.

Fair enough then. I’m speculating that perhaps they’re NOT sold on Trembley for ’09. Why else wouldn’t they have announed he’s returning next season? I know common PR isn’t their niche at The Warehouse, but this one is so easy even a dummy like me could figure it out. Give Trembley his ’09 contract and let’s move on. Or boot him and go find someone else that will deal with the likes of Fernando Cabrera, Alberto Castillo and Lance Cormier without wanting to stick a crab claw in their eye.

Keeping Trembley on hold like this is wrong. Period.

With attendance at 1,725,000 and some change, the O’s are in danger of NOT drawing 2 million fans. That’s not a surprise, of course, since the team has been losing since 1998 and over the last decade have more times than not gone out of their way to fight with the fans and paying customers. They’ve made serious attempts to patch things up with the Baltimore fan base this year and those efforts should be applauded. Still, though, the numbers don’t lie and if the team doesn’t average roughly 16,000 per-game over the last 17 home contests, they won’t draw 2 million at OPACY.

That’s why they’re offering $1.00 tickets to all September home games. Mind you, those aren’t $1.00 seats in the lower box. Those are $1.00 seats so high up in the ballpark they’ll ask you to put down your tray tables and fasten your seatbelts before the first pitch is thrown. But a buck is a buck and even if they’re doing it to try and avoid the embarrassment of failing to reach 2 million fans, it’s still a solid gesture to the fan base that has long been slapped around by the organization.

Under the guidance of Andy MacPhail, the O’s have seemingly started to get things back on track. Make no mistake about it though, the team’s rise back to respectability both on and off the field is a marathon, not a sprint.

And right about now, the team is just getting ready to tie their shoes on race day.

The real running hasn’t even started yet.