This is what it’s like to have a baseball team that tries every night.
Now we know why folks go to the ballpark in droves in New York, Boston and St. Louis.
The Orioles played another night of fundamentally sound baseball on Friday and edged the White Sox, 2-1, to capture their 4th straight game since Buck Showalter took over on Tuesday evening.
Give them credit for one thing: the Orioles are TRYING to win now. It’s very evident.
Unfortunately, that clearly wasn’t the case in April, May, June and July. If ever the door was slammed shut on a cold case file, the last four nights have done just that for all of us who have watched this club since April.
They weren’t really trying much in the first 100 or so games.
And to make matters worse, they often claimed they WERE trying. They threw out a bunch of lame excuses about the ball not bouncing their way or a pitch or two not getting the benefit of the doubt or some other form of bad luck.
Here’s the truth: The Birds started 3-16 and basically threw in the towel at that point.
Dave Trembley didn’t have the authority to kick anyone in the ass and Juan Samuel wasn’t around long enough to get the authority to do it.
But Buck Showalter has stepped in and put the fear of God in some of the team’s less-than-productive performers, including the kid who stroked the game-winning hit on Friday night, Adam Jones. More gifted than anyone on the team, Jones has been a mixture of good, bad and ugly this year and has acted on occasion as if he just wasn’t that concerned with his disappointing performance or the team’s downfall. If Showalter does nothing else this season except help Jones grow up on and off the field, he’s paid for his salary and then some in his 2-month stint. Adam Jones could be one of the best players in baseball if worked hard enough at it, a sentiment echoed weeks ago by Jim Palmer who claimed Jones was “on cruise control”.
Others have also looked different this week, but it’s Jones – who craves a leadership role on the team – who appears to have been impacted the most by Buck’s arrival.
Monday…players were just counting the days until the season ended.
Tuesday…Buck showed up and players stood at attention and took notice .
Friday…they won their 4th straight game and played well in doing so. No lame-brains getting picked off. No one casually throwing the ball in from the outfield and allowing runners to advance. Players running hard to first base on a ground ball. Better discipline at the plate. Gutty, gritty efforts on the mound from starters and the relief staff.
It confirms what some people thought all along:
This team was never as bad as their record indicated. They were “that bad” because they really didn’t give much of a damn. And in the big leagues, when you don’t show up with your heart in the game, you get your ass beat 70% of the time.
Their hearts are in it now, and the Orioles are suddenly resembling a real team.
The only negative of the whole thing? It just proves what we all thought all along. They WEREN’T trying for most of the season.
But Buck showed up and suddenly everyone got professional again.
Funny how that works.