I’m kind of embarrassed to even be here again. Some of you might have assumed that I lost interest in this or left the country or got hit by a truck. But I actually have a far better excuse for not penning a blog in over 6 months- I just finished my first year of law school. I still found time to wear a path in the carpet from pacing in front of the TV during last year’s playoffs, and the O’s were still on my mind whenever Torts and Contracts and Property weren’t, but the workload was just too much for me to be able to sit down and produce something worth reading. Anyway, I’m off for the summer now, and they say law school isn’t quite as bad after the first year, so I hope to be back here on a regular basis from now on.
So, we now find ourselves stuck in a 6 game losing streak precipitated mostly by the old reliable Jim Johnson blowing 3 saves in the course of one week. These losses have all been UGLY, capped off tonight by the Orioles chasing Sabathia and going to the 9th with a lead only to have Johnson give up a homerun to Travis Hafner that retied the game. Facebook and Twitter (yes, I have a Twitter now- @ErichHawbaker) were flooded tonight by commiserating fans, some declaring that last year really was a fluke after all and others saying “this too shall pass, they lost 7 in a row twice back in 1983.” Forgive me, but I’m about to do something that I usually detest- I’m going to agree with sides of the argument.
First of all, it’s only May and this skid is only 6 games. If this were football, we’d only be at the end of the 1st quarter right now. The season certainly isn’t lost beyond all hope because the Orioles have managed to catch all their bad luck at once in the second week of May. This team is practically identical to last year’s. and we know that that team was capable of making the playoffs and going the distance with the damnyankees in the ALCS.
However, it is also foolish to be overly optimistic and pretend that there aren’t issues here. Remember, I’m a realist. I was shocked and outraged that the front office sat on its hands during the offseason, which just further proved what we already knew. Even tho King Petey never gave a damn about fielding a winning team, he finally got one, and that still didn’t give him any motivation to improve on what fell into his lap last year. Anything the Orioles accomplish is in spite of the ownership, not because of it. That attitude will never change as long as he still plagues us with his presence.
On the field, the main issue is the relief pitching. Our offense is more than adequate, and capable of exploding into big innings and launching big comebacks at just about any time. However, the bullpen isn’t quite as sharp as it was last year, and for some reason they always seem to find the worst times to make mistakes. It’s a glaring contrast to last year, which culminated in that stellar record in extra innings. I knew going into this year that that at least was a feat that will probably never be repeated. Honestly, the bullpen might well have been the main cause of last year’s success versus the 15 years that came before it. Remember how poor Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t get a W to save his life when he was here? That scenario has already played itself out a few times this year. If the we’re going to right the ship, the front office should be shopping for and/or bringing up some reliable middle relievers RIGHT NOW.
And then there’s what we fans can do. First of all, remember that baseball players are but mortal men like the rest of us. Losing isn’t fun for them either. For a long time, losing was just part of the job description if you played for the Orioles. But now, after years of futility and misery, that is no longer the case. This team does have the potential to make another playoff run in my humble opinion. With the exception of Toronto, anybody could win the AL East. I originally thought the Yankees were effectively out of it with all of their injuries, but now that they went out and bought a whole new replacement team, I guess they’re back in the race. The Red Sox aren’t as good as they look right now either, and Tampa Bay may or may not stay above .500 for long. Nobody’s running away with this thing yet, and there is still plenty of season left to play.
So, my advice is to go ahead and vent a little if you need to. This past week has been a tough one. Pour yourself a drink, watch hockey instead, or just be glad we’re not Blue Jays or Astros fans. But then, get down to the ballpark and support your team. We’ve finally managed to fill the place with our fans again when either of the evil empires are in town. That has to continue. Our team needs us.
If you’re there on Wednesday night, you can look for me.