Striving For Mediocrity

February 02, 2011 | Erich Hawbaker

It’s about this time every year that my brain begins its semiannual transition out of one mode and into another. By August, I start to get the itch for football season and slowly begin checking out of baseball. It’s a lot easier to do when your team is nowhere near playoff contention, and as we all know that’s the way it’s been since I was in middle school. But nonetheless, it’s about now when I begin to fondly look forward to having a baseball game to listen to on the radio every night and enough daylight to get me to at least the 5th or 6th inning if I’m out on the farm.

So now, we must inevitably begin the speculation of how the 2011 edition of the Baltimore Orioles will fare. I have to say first off that it’s kind of a new experience for me to see some guys on the O’s roster that I’ve actually had on my fantasy teams in years past. I had JJ Hardy that year he was hitting homeruns like it was going out of style, and I also had Justin Duscherer for that season when Oakland moved him into their rotation and he put up some solid numbers. But unfortunately, this actually shows us that the Orioles’ offseason strategy has not changed at all.

Early on, when the top shelf free agents are looking for new homes, they’re nowhere to be seen; or if they do make an appearance, it’s only ever a half-hearted attempt at snagging one (case and point, Adam Dunn). Then, after the dust settles, they go about the business of filling their roster needs with so-so position players who might be better than who they had last year but are a far cry from being the building blocks of a playoff team. Round it out with a couple guys who were stars five years ago, but are now in the twilight of their careers, and you’ve got the Angelos/MacPhail formula for “success”.

Over the years, I’ve gotten sick after spiking my tea with orange Kool Aid enough times that I refuse to do so again. I tend to be more of a realist than an optimist in just about everything. But for some reason, the one exception I always made to that was for the Orioles. Not again. This year, I’m going to assume that this team still sucks until they show me otherwise. Exactly one year ago, I wrote a blog right here where I praised the front office for bringing back Miguel Tejada, and speculated that he, along with Josh Bell and Garrett Atkins, were going to at least give the Birds a shot at breaking .500 in 2010. Reading that again now, I feel like Gary Cooper saying that Gone With The Wind was going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history.

I’m officially changing my modus operandi of being a fan, because they say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Are you listening, front office? We’re still in the midst of this “grow the arms and buy the bats” mantra, but whenever it comes time to actually buy, you once again take the bargain basement route and bring home the guy who set the MLB record for most strikeouts in a season (Reynolds), a flash-in-the-pan hitting shortstop (Hardy), and yet another transient, aged power hitter (Vlad). And the best part is, Andy managed to go over what Pete wanted to spend! I guess the economy hasn’t been good for the ambulance chasing business, either. But they’re committed to winning, don’t doubt it for a second!

This team has proven me wrong (and Murphy’s Law right) more times than I care to recall. And I really hope they prove me wrong again this year… by at least having a pulse.

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