Maybe the biggest lesson that we can take away from last week’s memorable 3 game series with the Red Sox, is that the O’s just don’t possess that same championship swagger and resilience that we saw on display from the Red Sox last week. Good teams, like Boston, are able to shake off losses, even tough ones. It’d be easy to envision most teams, including the Orioles, going into a hole after suffering an embarrassing defeat of that magnitude. Instead, the frustrated Sox, held in check by Brad Bergesen for most of the following day, used every out that they were given, and staged a come from behind effort of their own.
In contrast, the Orioles have seemingly allowed that loss to spiral into a full week’s worth of sloppiness, let downs and general indifference. For my money the indifference has been the toughest to take.
As a fan, the O’s are a tough team to tie your hopes to. Certainly by now, those who are still on board with this club have found ways to cope with the inherent misery that comes with being an O’s fan these days. Indeed, if you live and die with every win and loss, every ball and strike, then over the course of 162 games the O’s will drive you crazy.
As a player, I can’t even imagine what the grind must be like. Part of the allure of baseball, to its fans, is the fact that it’s everyday. From a player’s perspective, I imagine that can be either a blessing or a curse. After all, everyday provides you a fresh opportunity to turn the page on whatever happened the day before. Or it could simply represent another exercise in having your nose rubbed in the embarrassing state of the team and the franchise in general.
As a professional, I can’t imagine how it would be possible to salvage any semblance of a sane and happy life, while repeatedly being paraded out to an empty home stadium under the guise that what actually happens on the field from day to day, is secondary to the bigger picture. I can’t imagine the mental anguish that I’d inflict, on myself and those around me, if I were forced to line up in the eye of this storm, night after futile night.
I imagine that over time the resilience of the human brain would take over, and I’d have to find something other than wins and losses to tie my hopes to. I imagine that many of the players on the Orioles, especially those who have been here for a while now, have stopped allowing what happens on the field to affect their day-to-day happiness, at least outside of their individual performances.
I suppose from the Red Sox’ perspective, in that regard life is easier. Every player is going to slump from time to time over the course of the season. If you can’t tie your hopes to the performance of your team, than you’d go to the park focused on yourself. When that goes south, what do you have left? When you play for a loaded club, a club that has proven it’s resilience time and again, there’s a good chance that someone will pick you up, when you’re not on your game. There’ll be a significant number of wins to celebrate, even when your play wasn’t what you would have hoped for. It’s therapeutic.
It’s ultimately a catch 22, I suppose. You have to win in order to believe that you can win. But once losing becomes the standard, how do you fix that? Once your players have successfully detached their own goals from those of the team, how do you get them back?
The Orioles’ indifference seems to be showing through, especially on defense. Maybe, the Orioles indifference is their defense, their only defense against insanity.