Spring training has started and opening day is just around the corner. For Orioles fans this is usually the happiest time of year. We all know what has happened the past 13 seasons after opening day, but as a fan I still find myself excited about the start of the season. No matter what moves are made in the offseason teams still have to go out on the field and play the games. That is why the Orioles have a chance. That is why Orioles fans should be optimistic.
The Orioles made plenty of moves this off season and have Buck Showalter and an impressive veteran coaching staff. There is a lot to be optimistic about this season. As a fan I am always optimistic on opening day, but this year I have a little more pep in my step when it comes to the start of the baseball season. Some fans will argue that there is no reason for Orioles fans to be optimistic about this season and I would understand where they are coming from. Just as I understand why there are thousands of empty seats in Camden Yards every summer. However, that doesn’t mean I have to share in their negative outlook. I am very excited for 2011 and I think there are plenty of reasons why fans should be pumped up for the start of the season.
There has been a lot of talk over all the additions made to the Orioles roster this off season. There also has been a lot of talk over how Buck Showalter’s presence will make a big difference in how this team plays on the field. I agree with both. Neither of these are the main reason I am excited for this season though. I am excited for the Orioles young players who are on the brink of becoming the future cornerstones of this Orioles team.
I grew up loving the Orioles because of players like Cal Ripken Jr. and Mike Mussina. These were guys who started their careers with the Orioles and had their best days with the Orioles (I choose not to acknowledge Mike Mussina ever wearing a Yankees uniform). For the first time since I have been following the Orioles, this team has multiple position players and pitchers with the potential of becoming great players.
2011 is going to be make or break season in seeing if players like Matt Wieters and Adam Jones along with pitchers Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Tillman live up to their potential. I am not forgetting the likes of Zach Britton, Josh Bell, Brandon Snyder, etc., but Wieters and company are the players who will get a chance this season to show fans what the future looks like.
The Orioles young pitchers have shown under Buck Showalter that they can pitch against the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. This group of young pitchers have the potential to be great. I can see Matusz starting opening day with Cy Young predictions. I can see Bergeson proving scouts wrong by continuing to work fast, pound the strike zone, and letting batters hit the ball into the ground. I can see Arrieta and Tillman pitching gems with their nasty stuff.
The same goes with Matt Wieters and Adam Jones. I refuse to give up on the high expectations that were given to them. Just because they haven’t reached their full potential yet, doesn’t mean they won’t do it this season or next. These guys could be superstar players. I can see Wieters being regarded year in and year out as one of the games best catchers. I can see Jones being looked at as one of the Orioles cornerstones, manning center field for years to come.
These players all come with lofty expectations and they each of have shown glimpses of what they can become (some more than others). I am choosing to go into 2011 with hope for what could be. I am an Orioles fan, so I already know what “experts” are predicting and I know what else could happen this season. However, I also know the Orioles could be turning a corner and could have a special group of players on their team right now.