Baltimore Orioles: Organizational swagger or arrogance?


Here at Birds Watcher we are not “fans” per se. We try to objectively cover the Baltimore Orioles for readers and fans of the team. Now having said that, neither myself nor any of the staff writers are doing this without having been Oriole or baseball fans. I know, I’m weaving one heck of a passive-aggressive web. In short, sure we’re Oriole fans; however we put that aside for the purposes of covering the team. Why is this important? As I’ve said in the past, I read a lot of other columns, as well as message boards so that I can get a pulse of what the fans are saying. That goes for Oriole boards, as well as opponent fan boards…

Today I stumbled upon this thread at at the Sons of Sam Horn, a Boston Red Sox message board. First off, sites such as these are a dime a dozen for every team, so we should all be well-advised to take anything we read on here with a grain of salt. However if you click on the link to the thread you’ll see that some Boston Red Sox fans are saying that they’re starting to not like the Orioles. This is due in large part to the events of last September, specifically September 28th. I’m not suggesting that they should be in love with the O’s by any means. However the attitude that I’m getting is that they seemed to feel that they had some sort of entitlement to go to the playoffs last year, and they’re angry at the Orioles for spoiling that.

In the aftermath of what happened last September I observed some Boston fans wondering why the Orioles were playing so hard when they had nothing to play for. That kind of speaks for itself. However back to the Sam Horn board for a moment; those fans seem to resent the Orioles for having the nerve to ruin their season, when in fact they had nobody to blame for their team’s collapse but their team. How can you fault the Orioles for playing hard?

That question has a one word answer: arrogance. Do these Red Sox fans so quickly forget the plights that the Orioles have been in as a result of their team? Leading the pack of course is the “Mother’s Day Massacre” in 2007. However that aside, there have been countless beatdowns at the hands of the Red Sox that included late inning dramatics, taunting celebrations, and of course the annual “takeovers” of the yard by Boston fans. (Don’t get me started on the t-shirts that various hotels carried in their gift shop that read “Fenway South.”) So from the perspective of the O’s and their fans, last September’s events (and this year’s sweep at Fenway) was only the beginning of payback for past “transgressions.” And these fans think that they owe the Orioles a knuckle sandwhich of some sort? Again, arrogance.

Having said that, is arrogance part of winning? Some would say yes, however I would say that swagger is part of winning. Put swagger on steroids, and you’ve got arrogance. There is a certain moxie that you should have as a winning team. When you start feeling entitled to that is when it turns into arrogance. There’s no doubt that Boston’s players worked for all of those “moments” against the Orioles over the years. However in doing so it started to become so second-nature that they forgot the work it took to get to those points. They came to a point where they felt entitled to do it. The same is true of fans posting on that message board; at first it was impressive that Red Sox fans were so willing to travel to Baltimore. Then they got arrogant and the takeovers of Camden Yards became a running joke.

So am I saying that the Orioles and Oriole fans should be more like that? Absolutely not; part of why the Orioles were so good for so long was due to their humility.  However they do need to adopt the swagger part, and I think that’s already happening. The fact that the Birds never give up in games shows that they know that they have to work and can’t let their guard down in order to win. There’s a difference between that and assuming that you’re going to get the bounces and the breaks simply because “it’s you.”

To further illustrate the difference between arrogance and swagger, I have a friend (that we’ll call “Ross’) who’s a huge Washington Nationals fan. He called me today and asked how it felt to lose the series to the Nats. I know what you’re thinking…Ross had to be kidding, right? Not in the least folks, he was dead serious. His reasoning: in the three-game set in DC, Washington scored 15 runs while the Orioles scored 11. And he firmly believes that means Washington won the series, regardless of the fact that the Orioles scored their runs in manners that allowed them to win two-of-three. This type of “Natitude” shows two things: stupidity, and arrogance. There’s that word again!

A true winner remains grounded, and even runs a little scared. When I say that I mean that he runs scared that the world could cave in, all while knowing in the back of his mind that he has the tools to make it work if he doesn’t give up. However again, that’s swagger, which is what you want. It turns into arrogance when you think you’re entitled to it. Incidentally, you might wonder how this objective writer dealt with Ross. It really boils down to simple math; the Birds won two games, and Washington one. To deny that fact isn’t arrogant, it’s just stupid. So I’ll throw this out to the fans…is there a difference between swagger and arrogance, and if so is arrogance part of being a winner?

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala