Aug 18, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis (21) singles in the second inning against the Colorado Rockies at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Are the O’s afraid of their own shadows?


There’s really not much to report in the wake of a 13-2 loss other than the fact that the Baltimore Orioles lost a game by 11 runs. Wei-Yin Chen took the brunt of the beating, turning in the shortest outing of his career. Chen’s line: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 3 BB, 5 K. One thing that does stand out at me there is that Chen did strike out five hitters in that span. If anything, he was throwing too many strikes and at the same time getting too much of the plate during the course of his outing. Interesting to say the least.

Boston obviously took advantage of Chen’s mistakes, with Shane Victorino smacking two home runs and Mike Napoli one. The O’s did have a bases-loaded with nobody out situation in the second inning in which they only scored two runs, which may well have come back to haunt them. However when you surrender 13 total runs it’s tough to say that’s where the game changed. After the game Chen “apologized” to his team, saying that he wasn’t good enough. You have to admire the guy and the entire team for how they all take accountability for what they do (or don’t do). That’s a rare and admirable quality these days.

With all of this said, this is almost a bit more about psychology than baseball; but work with me! The Orioles are a team that seems to not want the limelight for the most part. They don’t want to be “noticed,” and they’d rather have most of the attention focused on the Boston’s and New York’s of the world. However is that an attitude that in a certain sense backfires? On one hand it’s a fairly humble outlook in the sense that they do believe that they’re kind of nobody mixed with nothing. But let’s dig deeper and really think about what shirking the limelight means…

…at a certain point, you probably won’t get the limelight. The likes of Boston, New York, the LA Dodgers, etc. seem more than happy taking center stage and running with it. Thus they get experience “playing the lead,” while the Birds stay in their world of crab cakes and National Bohemian. And please understand folks…I’m not knocking what the Orioles do. They’re just trying to play baseball, and in fact I would submit that trying to stay off of center stage is an honorable modus operandi for life. Not only does it show that you don’t want to be the center of attention, but it shows that you’re focusing on just playing and hopefully winning ballgames.

Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

However I suppose that the rhetorical question I’m posing is whether or not that type of attitude isn’t blinding the Orioles. We’re at a point in the season and they’re at a point in the standings where they really have no choice but to take center stage. You have a team like Boston, who’s been hamming it up all season long, and the Orioles who have pushed that same limelight away to just focus on the game. Which team is more comfortable in it’s own skin? One might bring up the fact that the Orioles didn’t seem bothered by this in 2012, and it’s a fair point. However while those late season games were certainly dramatic I would say that there wasn’t as much pressure as we might try to think there was. If they didn’t make the playoffs in 2012, nobody would have blamed them. People would have said that they still had a great season, much better than expected. This time around I think that there is pressure, because now that they’ve been there they want to get back there (as do the fans).

Instead you have a team like Boston who’s not only used to being the center of attention, but they love it as such. Even in failing last year, they were part of “the story.” In 2011 of course when they dramatically lost on the last day of the season in Baltimore, they were “the story.” I suppose what I’m saying is that while people who crave the spotlight 100% of the time come across as crass, obnoxious, and often times even rude, they generally get the spotlight they covet (if for no other reason because they make so much noise about wanting that spotlight). So for better or for worse, they then become comfortable being the center of attention. On the other hand the people who shy away from the spotlight might find it difficult to just turn on that switch when they need to, giving the impression that they’re afraid of their own shadows.

In no way am I suggesting that the Orioles should become this loud bunch who mandates that they get 100% of the camera time. But it’s an interesting point to say the least; much more interesting than dissecting a 13-2 loss! The O’s will send Bud Norris to the mound tonight, and he’ll be opposed by John Lackey of Boston.

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles Wei-Yin Chen