O’s today: The last 64 games really do matter

July 28, 2009 | Drew Forrester

When you’ve lost for 11 straight years – and working on your own variety of “The Dirty Dozen” – one more loss shouldn’t mean that much. 

And, honestly, losing last night to The Great Bruce Chen and the Kansas City Royals isn’t really that big of a deal.  It wouldn’t shock me at all to see the O’s beat KC three straight to close out the series.  They stink.  

That said – these last 64 games of the season are important to the Orioles.

Very important.

The Birds currently stand at a woeful 42-56 and have pre-paid their rent check for the AL East basement through September. With 64 games to play, Baltimore needs at least 28 wins to reach what has now become our NEW magic number in Charm City — the 70 win total.  If you can’t do the math quickly enough, that’s 28-36 over the last two months of the season.  Just to hit 70 wins. 

OK, if you’re one of the team’s Apologists — and there are, surprisingly, more of you out there than we all realize – you’ll note that none of this matters.  “There’s no difference between 62 wins, 66 wins or 71 wins”…you contend.  “Last place is last place”… you say.  I hear this A LOT: “It doesn’t matter what the record is this year.  Everyone throughout baseball knows we’re on the verge of being really good again in Baltimore.”

Well, we’ll see about that.  

We’ll see about that in November and December, when the free agents with big bats and wide eyes for even bigger money start looking around baseball to see where they might want to peddle their wares in 2010 and beyond.

This coming off-season, we’ll see how damaging losing really is…sort of like we’ve seen for the last half-dozen years or so in Baltimore.  

I hate to say it (again)…but this is what happens when you lose all the time.

The players you have don’t want to play for you anymore.

And the players you don’t have – but want, and need – don’t want to play for you either.

That leaves you with?  Right.  More losing.

For all of you who signed up for the team’s grand plan to lose on purpose for a couple of years, you’ll see firsthand this off-season how that doesn’t help you get better in baseball.

Losing NEVER, EVER, EVER helps…except when it comes to drafting players because of your relative lack of success.  But those players have no choice but to play for you — unless you’re John Elway, Eli Manning or Steve Francis, members of the Whiner’s Hall of Fame because they didn’t want to play for the franchise that drafted them.  

When you’re talking about acquiring better players – and keeping your current players happy – losing is not the tonic for goodwill.

It’s just not.

And that will be on full display this winter if the O’s collapse down the stretch and finish with triple digit losses or more.  Once again, I’ll do the quick math.  Right now, they’re 42-56.  To finish with 100 losses, they have to go 20-44 over the last 64 games.  Quick, who wants to bet their mortgage the O’s won’t go 20-44?  I’m waiting.  

They’re already in half-shut-down-mode now and it’s not even August 1.  

The Manager – debate his credentials all you want, but Casey Stengel wouldn’t win with this outfit – looks ready to strangle someone with every MacLoss he suffers, particularly to scrub teams like Kansas City last night.

Losing definitely doesn’t sit well with Dave Trembley, no matter what philosophical happy face he puts on it for the MASN crew. 

Losing looks like it’s not thrilling Brian Roberts either.  Boy, talk about “buyer’s regret”, eh?

And Aubrey Huff – despite a career with losing teams – has apparently decided to give it the Roger Dorn treatment for the last few months, as he looks like a shell of the player who had a bang-up 2008 and a decent start to ’09.  I guess Huff assumed at some point he’d get rewarded for his decision to sign here in ’07.  Uh, maybe not.

Let’s see what Chone Figgins thinks about losing when he’s free in November.

We could use a third baseman.  He’s no Mike Schmidt, mind you, but he’s way better than anything we currently have, either on the major league OR minor league roster.  

Chone Figgins would be a welcome addition in 2010 and beyond.

But he probably wants to get paid.  By a winner.  That’s just my guess.

We’ll need a first baseman in ’10 and I don’t think his last name will be Huff.  Brandon Snyder wants a chance, but do you want to turn your team over to him next April?

A high quality first baseman who can hit and field also costs money.  See Exhibit A:  Mark Teixeira.  

Losing over the last two months isn’t going to help the O’s attact anyone of quality in the off-season.

These last 64 games ARE important, no matter what the Apologists say.

We’ll see how important winning and losing is come November when free agency begins.

Then, and only then, will this theory of “we’re not going to win anyway…” be put to the full test. 

I have a feeling I know how it’s going to play out.