The last two weeks have been very tough for Orioles fans. April and May the O’s were that great big colorful icy slushee on a hot summer day. We sucked on that long orange straw enjoying the cold, sweet juicy goodness, win after win and now we’re left with nothing but a migraine inducing brain freeze that will finally feel some temporary relief thanks to the All-Star break. Just like 2005, the Birds have given us the seven year itch in 2012 having us believe they could contend.
Some are still drinking the preverbal Kool-Aid and that’s good. After all the Orioles are our summertime escape from the drama of daily life. Of course watching them lose seven of their last ten games had me searching my On Demand for reruns of Pawn Stars.
The one thing that annoys me more than the O’s defense has been the commentators, sports talk hosts and callers that are just happy the Birds are where they are. Really, have we become that complacent?
I’ve heard them talk. “After 15 losing seasons, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…” after 15 losing seasons this team should be competing. If you owned a hamburger restaurant for 15 years and the McDonald’s up the street was still kicking your butt would you be happy to still sell ten hamburgers a day or would you study the competition, find their weaknesses, hire the best personnel and own the market? The Orioles are still happy to sell ten burgers a day. I’m just hoping Robert Andino and Mark Reynolds hasn’t dropped my order.
Do you remember a few years ago when the Minnesota Twins were being threatened with contraction? The club was literally going to be erased from baseball. They’ve been to the playoffs six times in the last ten seasons.
As fans we expected this to be the season that the Orioles would make the turnaround. When Buck Showalter was hired we all looked at his track record. His second full season in Baltimore would mimic his time in New York, Arizona, Texas when those clubs recorded their most wins. This Orioles team doesn’t have the pitching or sluggers that those teams did but with the poor display of defense this team has exhibited even Sabathia, Halladay and Verlander would have a tough time getting wins.
Three weeks ago I sat in a packed hotel conference room in Salisbury, North Carolina for a sportscaster’s seminar. One of the speakers was a talent scout for a large sports broadcasting company. He was of course asked the age old question, “What are you looking for”? It’s the same question that gets asked at every seminar. From broadcasting to sales to carpentry, we’re all looking for that magic elixir that makes us stand out from the crowd. His response was simple “nail the basics”. Do the small things, the normal things really good and everything else will fall into place.
Three simple words that are the secret to success NAIL THE BASICS. Same is true in sports. The Orioles lead Major League Baseball in errors with 70. They’ve only played 79 games this season! Truthfully that number should be higher. Thankful for official scorers in opposing stadiums that would rather record a hit for their team then an error for the Birds the total is slightly lower.
Think about what an error is. An error is an out given away. That’s 70 outs that the Orioles have given to the opposition. With 27 outs in a ballgame and a lineup that’s currently under producing it’s not hard to fathom why the fall continues.
Some commentators and fans will call for Dan Duquette and the front office to go out and spend money to bring in some talent to help put the O’s in better position for a run. Before the team can do that they have to address playing sound fundamental baseball. The extra cage work to help bust the lineup out of their slump and putting the best players in the field to play defense. The best weapon for a team with a limited pitching rotation is strong defense.
Next week the team will have a few days to relax and refuel for the second half. Let’s hope they learn to nail the basics and the rest will take care of itself.
***Click here to vote Jason Hammel to the 2012 All-Star Game***
Follow Adam McCallister on twitter @McCallister_A