Going into the 2010 season, we all thought that ‘dem O’s would at the very least be better than they had been over the previous twelve years or so. Nobody was predicting that they’d be in contention for the playoffs at this juncture, or even potentially have a winning record. However I think that most people expected that they’d be above fifty wins to say the least (by now). As a fan, I predict the Orioles to win every game 1,000,000 to nothing! However analytically, I felt comfortable predicting at the beginning that this team would finish the year hovering around .500 (give or take ten games either way). Had the Orioles reached that plateau, I would have declared this season an overwhelming success in Birdland, as I think most people would have done.
However the fact is that this team isn’t going to finish anywhere remotely near .500. In fact, they’re probably going to finish with a worse record than they did in 2009. First off, mentioning the fact that the Orioles’ season was snakebitten nearly from the beginning by injuries is fair. That might come across as sounding like an excuse; maybe it is, maybe it’s not. However if it is an excuse, it’s also a fact. Had Brian Roberts, Felix Pie, Jim Johnson, Alfredo Simon, Luke Scott, Michael Gonzalez, and others not been hurt early in the year, perhaps things would have been a bit different. This isn’t to say that the team would have been churning out wins left and right, but I don’t think it would have been the disaster that it ended up being. (And I only mentioned a few of the injuries that caused guys to spend time on the DL; there were other players such as Miguel Tejada that missed several games in a row due to bumps and bruises.) I would submitt that the loss of Brian Roberts hurt this team moreso than did anything else, as the entire offense is streamlined down from him, as of course are those all-important double plays. As a result, guys batted out of turn for most of the season, and the O’s had a different lineup for each day of the week, which never allowed for continuity day-in and day-out.
So given the fact that the O’s were so uncompetitive for the entire season to date, is 2010 a grand failure? If you’re the type of person that chooses to live in ignorance and refuses to look past the tip of your nose, then yes I suppose it is. However I maintain that there’s always more than meets the eye, especially with regard to the fine line between success and failure. As I said, I would have been willing to say that the year was a success had they hovered around .500. However I don’t think that the season unfolding the way it has equates with failure. And I don’t say that because the Orioles are part of who I am and because I love them so much. I say that because we have to keep in mind that returning a franchise to glory in any sport is a “process.” The mistake that Andy MacPhail made was declaring phase one of the rebuilding plan over and done with. At the end of last season, he said that Dave Trembley would be judged more on wins and losses than in the past. Ultimately that’s exactly what happened.
Brian Roberts’ injury on April 9th set in motion a series of events that culminated with Buck Showalter taking the reigns. In my opinion, the writing was on the wall for Trembley as soon as Roberts hit the DL. However all of the other injuries probably accelerated that process. So when the season went south early, Trembley was relieved of his duties on June 4th, and replaced with Juan Samuel on an interim basis. The team continued plodding along throughout the summer with a few good things and many bad happening, until Buck Showalter came into town on his white horse to save the day. The team immediately began performing better, and thus we stand at that point today. I would submit that if in two-to-four years the team is competitive and perhaps in the playoff race, 2010 could be judged a success. I suppose it’s symbolic of life in a way in that when we come to an ends, we often have to look back at the just completed journey with a fond smile. That journey can sometimes be harsh while it’s going on, however when it’s completed and it’s solution brought to fruition we appreciate it even more.
Let’s be frank; this team has a long way to go. However if they manage their cards right and continue along this path with a solid coaching staff and quality players, this team might well contend down the road. Odds are that the Tampa Rays won’t have the financial assets to keep their team together after this season, and certainly the Red Sox have shown signs of breaking down the stretch as well this year. (The difference is that all Boston has to do is sign a check to maintain their status as one of the sport’s best teams.) So given those things, maybe this team will be competitive in a couple of years. And if that’s the case, I submitt that 2010 would be judged a success. Perhaps not in the vain which we expected, however in the grand scheme of things it would be a successful year. Having said this, the ultimate success of any season at this point would be Buck Showalter leading a victory parade down Pratt Steet, as the thundering roar from 34 came raining down on Oriole opponents.