O’s Comment Box: Culture Shock

April 24, 2009 |

“Cut. Cut. Cut. Uh, excuse me Adam, but who gave you permission to ad lib? Can we just stick with the script please?  Can you please just make it easy on everyone and play the role you were cast for?  Nobody asked you to write your own lines.  I believe we are paying you to stink, so could you please just stink?  Is that asking too much?  Is stinking too hard for you?  Okay, one more time people.  From the top.”


Seriously, where did that performance that Adam Eaton turned in last night come from?  What should we be led to believe?  I mean, if Eaton can have even half of that command and success every fifth day, things sure do change a little.


Even Adam Eaton’s teammates seemed shocked by his outing last night.  In fact, when Trembley came out to get him in the eighth, Roberts, Huff, Wigginton, and Izturis all made a trip to the mound to pat Eaton on the behind- as if to say, “Hey Adam, we didn’t want to jinx you by saying anything earlier, but we never imagined you could strike out nine guys in one game.  Thanks, man.  I might actually get to have dinner at a reasonable hour.” 


That kind of approach works fine when you’re supposed to stink, when it’s obvious that .500 is a perennial pipe dream.  But what happens when you show the capability to string together a few wins?  Then how are you supposed to act?  Nobody on this team has any idea how to be a winner at this level, and it shows. 


We shouldn’t all be in shock that Eaton pitched 7 1/3.  We should come to expect it.  The guy is a professional baseball player, due some $9 million from the Phillies this year.  We’ve grown so used to losing that even a ‘good’ outing has become headline material, albeit below the fold.


Tuesday night we ushered in a ‘new era’ of Orioles pitching with the debut of Brad Bergesen.  With the arms of Tillman, Arrieta and Matusz not far behind, Oriole fans can now talk of a bright future.  Obviously, the talk is meaningless if the arms don’t work out, and let’s be honest, all of them probably won’t.  They usually don’t.  Still, even the most pessimistic Orioles fan can’t help but look forward to seeing what all the buzz is about.


Unfortunately for the Orioles and their fans, they have put these players at a competitive disadvantage.  Welcoming this ‘bright future’ into a culture of losing doesn’t bode well for its chances.  Let’s be honest, the joke has been on the fans for the majority of this 11 year losing streak.  We ponied up plenty to watch a substandard product.  But with record low attendance figures and a perceived indifference from once ardent fans, maybe an underlying sentiment of ‘fool me once’ is becoming more like it.   


I don’t know about everyone else, but if my highly anticipated big league debut came in front of 7,000 fans at my home ballpark, I’d have a hard time maintaining the level of enthusiasm that is required of a winner at the major league level.  That’s not to blame the fans.  Tuesday was cold, rainy, and, more importantly, relatively meaningless.  That’s what 11 years of losing does. 


The culture needs to change now.  That means trying to win baseball games right now.  If Matt Wieters is the best catcher in your organization, then you either need to promote him or trade for someone who is better than him.  If Chris Tillman gives you a better chance to win than Mark Hendrickson, then he needs to be in the rotation. 


Last weekend’s series in Boston sure felt like the white flag was going up on the season.  The way they laid down on Monday showed no heart and confirmed exactly what I’ve suspected about this bunch.  Somehow though, two of the most ‘unlikely’ candidates have resuscitated this team and have forced the ‘veterans’ to maintain their game face, if even only for a weekend series with the Rangers.