Now that the 2010 Baltimore Orioles season is over, let’s do a quick review. You will notice this review will not be written through “Orange colored glasses”.
In 2001, the Oriole home attendance was 3,097,841 at an average of 38,686 people per game. That was the last year over 3 million in a season. The Orioles had a 63-98 record. The next 6 years saw the attendance fall through the 2 million number.
In 2007, the Orioles home attendance was 2,164,822 at an average of 27,060 people per game. That was the last year over 2 million in a season. The Orioles had a 69-93 record. The Orioles noticed this trend of falling attendance and horrible on the field product, and hired Andy McPhail to be the General Manager. Things were going to turn around.
In 2008, the Orioles home attendance was 1,950,075 at an average of 25,000 people per game. The Orioles had a record of 68-93. Things were on the right path, it’s just that things needed time. Also, the team payroll was slashed down about $20 million dollars from 2007.
In 2009, the Orioles home attendance was 1,907,163 at an average of 23,545 people per game. The Orioles had a record of 64-98. As fans, we saw Matt Weiters and Brian Matusz for the first time. This young cornerstone, along with the young Adam Jones, was going to be the key to turning this thing around. Next year, the wins will count.
In 2010, the Orioles home attendance was 1,733,018 at an average of 21,662 people per game. The Orioles had a record of 66-96. As fans, we walked away and turned them off. The start of this season was so bad, “terrifically awful” is what Andy McPhail said, that they fired the manager, replaced him with an interim manager, and then hired Buck Showalter with 2 months to go in the season.
Then, much like that scene in the Grinch that stole Christmas where the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes, something happened to this Orioles team. They played inspired winning baseball the last 2 months of the season. The Orioles were 35 – 23…that’s a .603 winning % under Buck. That’s a 97 win season if we play that way all year long.
Now, we have what is probably the most defining moment in the last 15 years for the Orioles. Is 1,733,018 the bottom or does attendance rise next year. As fans, we are demanding that money be spent at several positions (Big Bat at first base for example) right now. The usual buy low and cheap off-season plan will not be tolerated. Does that mean that the Orioles will actually do what they need to do? I am taking the wait and see approach. I expect them to half-heartily try, then have a built in excuse when the settle for sloppy seconds. I hope I am wrong, but the Andy McPhail regime has been “save money, go cheap” approach thru-and-thru. I will believe something else, when I see something else.