HOPE is a four-letter word

May 18, 2012 | Dwayne Showalter

May is getting long in the tooth already.  It’s Preakness weekend.  The NCAA Lacrosse Final Four is next weekend.  And the O’s and Nationals will battle this weekend with two of the best records in all of baseball.  Wait….wha….????

The Orioles started off hot this season sweeping Minnesota.  After April, folks around town started the crazy talk, Billick’s infamous “P-word”.  The team had started 6-1 in 2011 and things quickly went downhill.  They have lost for 14 straight seasons.  So all hope is just that, hope.  I said at the time, I won’t get excited until 40 games are in the books.  Well, guess what?  Tonight marks the Orioles’ 40th game of 2012 and even with a loss they will be ten games over .500 at 25-15.

Buck’s boys have hit more homers than any team in baseball (without a classic home run hitter).  They have the second best ERA in the American League.  The closer is red-hot.  The biggest concern with the play over the first quarter of the season is the propensity to boot the ball around the field.  The Orioles have committed the third most errors in the big leagues.

My biggest concern headed into the second quarter lies in the stats above.  What happens when the timely homers subside?  What happens when the ERA climbs?  What happens when the closer cools?  Fielding isn’t something that has the volatility that an ERA tends to have.  So I don’t expect the defense to improve that much (especially considering there is no real answer at either 1st or 3rd base).

An optimistic fan may have noticed my use of the word “when” as opposed to “if”.  That’s what 14 seasons of losing has done to most of the fan base.  That’s the word you choose when only 8 of the forty-man roster was alive the last time the Orioles were in the World Series in 1983.  Maybe that’s why I have a feeling they may still lose 80 games.

But I was at the Yard last Friday and had a good time watching the park come to life with a trio of homers and a lock-down performance by Jim Johnson in a 4-3 win over Tampa.  I’ll be back next week versus KC.  And I’m looking forward to a series this weekend in DC that actually packs some wallop in both leagues.  If the O’s (and DC) can keep it up for another month, imagine how much fun it will be when the Nats come up 295 in late June.  At least right now, 39 games in, there’s hope.