Don’t get me wrong, I love playoff baseball. It’s amazing: the atmosphere, the pitching match-ups, the long balls, the highlights, the upsets, the broadcasting, everything. You never know what you’re gonna get and almost every single game is good. Even though it’s so fun, a part of me gets depressed every October because all I can think about while sitting at home on my couch watching the playoffs is “When will it be our turn? When will the Orioles win again and make the playoffs? When will they be the most feared team in baseball? When will they dominate the league like they once did decades ago? Who will become the Brooks and Frank Robinson’s and the Cal Ripken, Jr’s and the Eddie Murray’s?”
Being an Orioles fan has to be one of the most depressing roles. You can make a case for other really bad teams like, for example, the Pirates. But they were in the playoff race for a while this season until they went back to normal. We have endured our 15th straight losing season. Read that sentence again. How pathetic is that??
Something has got to change. And what’s most frustrating is that we know this team can be damn good. Look at April 2011. Look at September 2011. Now what the hell happened in between those two months, I’m not sure. What I do know is that in April and September, they played with an intense amount of passion. They were good on all aspects: pitching, hitting, and defense. The coaches and manager made good decisions. They played like they wanted to win and they played like they were having fun. Regardless of what happens this winter with McPhail or Showalter (please don’t move him to the front office too!!) or Guthrie or any other player, someone on that team needs to get these guys to play like they did in the beginning and end of this season.
It’s also kind of ironic, just looking back to the Red Sox collapse and the O’s part in it. Like I said, the Orioles book-ended their year with two great months of baseball in April and September. Even though they finished April with a losing record at 12-13, they got out to an early 6-1 start before an 8-game losing streak. The starting pitching lasted deep into the games and gave quality starts, the offense scored enough runs and got clutch hits, and the team just looked good. In September, they finished 15-13, their only winning month of the season. They got back to what they did in April with great outings by the starters, a lights out bullpen, and an offense that produced when it had to. TEN of those 15 wins in September were ones that came as the O’s rallied to win. When counting, I looked for any game in which the O’s had a lead that they allowed the opposing team to tie or overcome so that the Orioles had to come from a tie or come from behind to win the game. That means that two thirds of the games they won in September were basically won because of clutch hitting.
Going back to the irony. The Red Sox also bookended their season in April and September; however, they did so in the opposite manner of the Orioles. In April, they went 11-15 including an 0-6 start to the season. That’s almost exactly opposite of the Orioles April. In September, they went 7-20. Ouch. It’s just funny that the Red Sox had a very bad April and September to start and finish the season and the Orioles had a great April and September to start and finish the season.
So, even though we endured yet another losing season and even though we lost in the end, I feel like we also won. We won the last game of the season, we won a great month of September baseball, we beat the Red Sox, we denied them a chance to the playoffs, we beat Papelbon when down to our last strike, we won. It still feels great. We have a great attitude among our players heading into the off-season, they’re going to work hard this winter and work hard in Spring Training next year and play hard next season. No matter what the outcome is, I guarantee that’s what they do. So be happy O’s fans, be excited, rest your hearts this winter but know that the Orioles are on a good path. I’m confident that I’ll see a winning season and a playoff appearance before I die and you should be too. I’m anxious to see who becomes an Oriole this winter and you should be too. I’m excited for the 2012 Baltimore Orioles season and you should be too.