Drew’s Morning Dish — Mon., July 8

July 08, 2013 | Drew Forrester

I guess after a decade-plus of bad baseball in Baltimore, it should be easy to forgive the community at large for not knowing how to actually root for the team anymore.

I’m trying to be patient, I swear, but the reaction from some of you people over the weekend is hard to forgive.

You’re nuts.  Well, a lot of you are, that is.

Of course, this is precisely the same behavior exhibited by fans of the football team year-in and year-out, but because the Ravens have been very good for six of the last seven seasons, most of the fan-base-whining goes unnoticed.

Still, this over-reaction to losing and the asinine post-game analysis that follows isn’t isolated to just the baseball team.  One football loss and it’s the same deal.

I understand that anytime the Orioles lose to the Yankees, it’s a hot mess.  It’s not all that different around here when the Ravens lose to the Steelers, although that doesn’t happen much anymore.  Lose a game to the White Sox and it’s sort-of OK.  Lose to the Yankees and all hell breaks loose, like it did on Friday night when Jim Johnson came in and played give-away-the-game in the bottom of the 9th inning.

“Trade that guy tonight.”  – was one of the Twitter demands I saw.

“Buck needs to go if he’s going to insist on shoving Johnson down our throats.” – tweeted someone else.

A caller to sports talk radio on Saturday offered a real doozy — “This reminds me of the same way Harbaugh screwed up the McKinnie situation last season.  Same thing.  Didn’t have the guts to do the right thing, just like Buck doesn’t have the guts to bench this Johnson guy and let someone else close the games.”

“Let Kevin Gausman close,” someone else said on the air.

And these are four people in Baltimore who are probably – in their own mind, at least – among the more connected and passionate baseball fans in the city.

Trade your closer in mid-season, fire the manager if he can’t figure it out, and let a kid go into the biggest pressure cooker there is – closing games – even though he has no experience doing it.  Oh, and let’s not forget the Harbaugh comparison and the way the coach “screwed up” the McKinnie situation.  Boy, if only Harbaugh screws up like that again this year and we win a second straight Super Bowl, huh?

I’m embarrassed reading and listening to some of this craziness, because it just reinforces to me that you’re not really paying attention to the way sports works.

You THINK you know how it works.

Alas, you don’t.

There’s no question that Jim Johnson is a problem on this edition of the Orioles.  Based on his offensive numbers and the general lack of success he’s experienced this season, so is Matt Wieters.  But, because Johnson is a specialist – a la a football field goal kicker – he’s expected to perform with 100% effectiveness each night he gets the ball.  I don’t hear anyone saying “play Taylor Teagarden more” when Wieters goes 0-for-4 with 2 k’s.

I do understand that Johnson’s role is much more definable than anyone else’s on the team.  He comes in with the lead and is supposed to still have the lead when the game ends.  That’s simple enough to figure out.

It doesn’t work like that all the time, of course, because the other team has players who are also trying.

Remember, I’ve said on numerous occasions that I’m concerned about Johnson.  I have been for the better part of six weeks now and you can go back and read any number of blogs I’ve posted where I’ve all but predicted his struggles.  That said, there’s no one else on the roster right now capable of closing games as efficiently has Johnson has over the last two and a half seasons.  If you think Tommy Hunter can be a bonafide major league closer, you’re probably wrong.  Darren O’Day?  No, he can’t close, either.

Jim Johnson is the team’s closer.

For better or worse.

I have a bad feeling it’s going to be “for worse” unfortunately, but you have to play the cards you were dealt and JJ was what they were handed in March.

That doesn’t mean, though, you should fly off the handle after every loss, the way a lot of you seem to do, particularly when there’s no real solution.  And no, you just saying, “I don’t give a flying eff…anyone’s better than that guy.  Just put anyone else in there to close”, doesn’t constitute a “real solution”.

Here’s a fact about baseball:  If you go 3-2 every five games, you’re making the playoffs.  You just have to win three times out of five games and you’re a great team.

Hell, if you get three hits every ten times you get to the plate, you’re a Hall of Famer, as long as you didn’t use steroids along the way.

You can fail seven times in baseball and be an elite player.

But, you obviously can’t do that as a closer.

Seven failures out of ten attempts will get you in the unemployment line.

And while I understand the temptation to go nuts and want to fire the manager, the closer and the bat boy when the team blows a game in New York, I’d ask that you be a little smarter about your post-game rants between now and October.

You’re only embarrassing yourself…no one else.

8 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    If it was not for fan craziness you & the station would be off the airwaves, look at the bright side…job security !!! Thank God the O’s are relevant again this year to keep the summer airwaves busy, just keep remembering when the O’s were so bad.

  2. The Armchair QB Says:

    It’s a long season and not half over yet! We seem to be in a similar or better position relative to W’s & L’s than last year at this time, so no reason to “panic”! That being said, the only criticism that I have has to do with the tweaking of a lineup that seemed to be having a great deal of success, i.e. McLouth leading off. That, plus the fact that bringing back Roberts and Reimold would seem to be more of a hindrance than a help. But, MLB is ALL ABOUT PITCHING, which is somewhat problematic for the moment both in the starting rotation and bullpen. Which brings me back to the opening statement: it’s a long season and not yet half over…….

  3. Jason Manelli Says:

    I’ve actually come to enjoy the wails of these chicken little, purported fans. Anyone that says Buck is a coward who should be fired is a Yankee fan in disguise, trying to bring back the likes of Dave Trembley. Try to enjoy the ride people, for crying out loud we waited years to have up’s to go along with the downs!

  4. Brad Says:

    I love the philosophy Drew. Johnson’s the closer and that’s the end of the story. If he blows 20, 30, or 40 games that’s just the way it is. It was determined back in March that Johnson was the closer so nothing can be done about it now. If we’re up by a run or 2, Buck HAS to bring him in for a save attempt. This manager gig seems easier than I thought. Buck has an argument proof answer for every question. Well, he’s the closer so its irrelevant how many games he blows….Well, he’s the catcher so it doesn’t matter if he bats .150. I can’t think of an easier job….Of course, that’s just your fantasy world. If Johnson continues to struggle down the stretch, Buck will make some sort of an adjustment because that’s what managers do. Many fans are just wondering when that will happen. Managing is not mindless as you suggest.

  5. BK Says:

    I find it hard to believe this really surprises anyone and why the media continues to criticize and put down the fans for their opinions. They are ‘fans’, they have opinions, and without them none of this would exist. Fans can have ANY opinion they like, especially when they are the ones contributing to pay the players, Jim Johnson in particular, the coach, WNST’s existence, and the income the media makes off of it.

    Is it ridiculous and ludicrous at times? Yes, of course, but you don’t need a certain IQ or have to be a expert on the sport itself to be a fan. You need fans and fan’s opinions to make it all go round. I’d rather see more of ‘That’s your opinion, here is mine and why.’, rather than just calling them all idiots, saying they are always dead wrong, saying they are nuts, and that they have no idea what they are talking about. JMO

    Would you rather have a very passionate, off-base at times, fan base or fans with no passion at all?

  6. Chris Says:

    The people saying buck should be fired are NUTS. Just compare him to the previous manager and there is the proof of the difference a manager makes. Trembley was full of excuses and questionable decisions while buck has been a wizard for the most part. You can also compare to the previous 3 or 4 managers and get the same comparison. Coincidentally, none have even come close to sniffing another manager job.

    The Johnson saga has been frustrating for sure, but the hope is that he works out his control issues an gets it together for the stretch run.

  7. unitastoberry Says:

    I bailed on the Ravens up until the Giant game and the firing of Cam then the reshuffle of the O line. I’m not bailing on the O’s yet too many games to play yet. But we all know what they need,pitching,pitching,and more pitching.

  8. David Says:

    The Tommy Hunter should be closer was comical. I heard that a lot on Friday night after the game. Oddly everyone had forgotten that Hunter hung that pitch out there that Dunn took yard earlier that week. Im sure the NY fan base is running Rivera out of town for yesterday right? No they are not. I am not comparing Rivera to Johnson because that would just be silly but hey when your a closer stuff happens. I am alright with Jimmy. He was great yesterday and you kind of forget about Friday night. Now if he deals all week long, im sure we will forget about the loss to the Yankees. But to trump all the gripes listed on the blog here i read on the O’s Facebook page from multiple people that Brian Roberts is the reason the O’s are losing. That oddly he came back and now hes bad luck because the O’s started losing some games. I guess in this town anyone and everyone is a reason for losing.

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