Ok, I think we have reached the low point of the first 98 games of Buck Showalter’s tenure. The combination of the collapse in Boston, the disastrous end Wednesday against the Yankees, the beat down last night, and the sudden rash of injuries makes for a sudden and intense flashback to the misery we went through pre-Buck.
My advice: don’t hit the panic button.
Personally, I didn’t think the Orioles would be a .500 team this year. I picked them to finish last in the AL East. But, to me it’s obvious that this years team is improved, and that Buck is the manager we need.
At the end of the season, will we have improved dramatically in the standings as a lot of people predicted? I don’t think so, at least not dramatically.
But, what I see in this team right now is more important than their current win/loss record.
I see momentum.
I don’t mean the momentum of a 10 game winning streak, or the momentum of a sudden offensive outburst. I see an organisational momentum that starts with Andy MacPhail and Buck Showalter.
The progress that I see makes me believe that it can continue.
That is the important thing, to keep getting better.
Personally, I’ve noticed that the O’s have gone through phases of winning and losing this season, and the past week has been the biggest negative swing this season.
Right now, I don’t know if they will reach .500 again this season. But with Matusz coming back soon, it could happen.
In March, I wrote in my prediction for the 2011 season how important it is to remember the history of baseball when predicting your teams fortune for the new season. I used to talk about it by simply mentioning a date that took place now almost a century ago.
It took the Red Sox eighty-six years to win a world series. The lesson here is not just to look at how long that was in baseball years, but to look at what happened outside of baseball.
Babe Ruth shut out the Cubs in Game 1 at Comiskey Park on September 5th of that year. Six days later, the Sox took the series four games to two.
Exactly two months later, on November 11, 1918, World War I ended.
One of the things I love most about baseball is its history. And I don’t just love the history of the sport itself. I love how far back it reaches in our country’s history.
The fact that countless Red Sox fans, White Sox fans, and hopefully soon Cubs fans and Indians fans won a series only after waiting for decades… generations…
To me, that is beautiful in a way, although I would never want to live my entire life without seeing my ball team win it all.
But that is the way baseball is. Much like its six-plus month season, baseball spans out into the cornfields of history, to borrow a metaphor. Baseball has been loved by generations of kids who grew up and then passed America’s Pastime to their children.
So what this tells me, is that if the Orioles had to wait to win a World Series as long as the Red Sox did, we would be throwing our World Series Parade in 2069.
With that perspective, I wrote in my prediction, you can only be an optimist as a baseball fan if your team cheats, has no class (see New York Yankees), or if you simply choose to ignore the facts.
But I think that uncertainty, the fact that anything can happen, is one reason why baseball is so great. While there are miracles, unpredictable runs for the pennant, role players suddenly carrying a team in a post-season series, there are also disappointments and even disasters. Those happen more often than miracles.
However, those tough seasons, those pennant droughts, those “there’s always next year” moments, build up our anticipation and intensify our desire to see our team win it all. And when that happens, it is much sweeter than Yankees fans can know. They eat caviar, smoke $100 cigars, and buy championships. They don’t really know what it feels like to win. But that blog is for another day.
So my point is:
1) In the context of baseball history, we are a very lucky city.
2) We might want to temper our bitching and moaning. Take a step back and enjoy the game. The sport is called “baseball” not “WINNING”.
3) Statistically speaking, the chances of wining a World Series are poor. The chances of going .500 are… 50/50? It takes time to be a great organization, especially in baseball, in my opinion. Proof of this is: Cubs, Indians, Red Sox, White Sox, etc.
To end this post, I want to go back to my original point:
Don’t hit the panic button.
But I’m not saying that because I think we’re going to go .500 this year, or next, or that we’ll win it all sometime before 2069, when I turn 92.
Don’t press it, because you might be pressing it over and over for a very long time.
Enjoy the game. Enjoy the sport.
Go out to Oriole Park, the most beautiful stadium in sports. Take your family. Go out on a hot summer day or a cool summer night.
Take it all in.
If you haven’t watched Field of Dreams in a while, you might want to put it on.
Or Major League.
That’s baseball. At least, that’s what it is to me.
It’s something to be enjoyed. It is an American sport.
A friend once said to me that baseball is American because it is played on a field that goes on and on forever. That it is played until someone wins. Time doesn’t constrain the game.
Baseball is American because it is vast, like our freedom, like our history. It is about going out on a sunny summer day, to sip a cool drink, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy watching a game that has been passed on through generations.
Passed on within our families.
Passed on throughout our history.