Baltimore Orioles: Wins and losses in spring training
As Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles ease into spring training this weekend and over the next few days, keep in mind that we won’t see actual games until March 3rd. At that time, the O’s will begin a truncated 30+ mini-season known as the Florida Grapefruit League. One question I always ask each year is how important are wins and losses in spring training? In short, the answer that’s plain as the nose on our faces is that wins and losses really play no role. The slate is struck new again come opening day, right? In theory, I suppose.
Courtesy of David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
However keep in mind that for years the O’s had a mindset of just trying to meld together as a team in spring training. And quite frankly with some of the changes we’ll be seeing, that might be the case to a certain degree once again in 2015. However make no mistake about the fact that the Orioles are expected to be a contender once again in 2015. So does that change things?
In a word, yes. While the team should use these spring games as means by which to gel together as one unit, they should also keep in the backs of their minds that both winning and losing can be contagious. I’m reminded of the 2010 team, which began spring training with a 1-6 clip. They turned around and started the regular season at 2-16, which set in motion a series of events that culminated in Buck Showalter coming to Baltimore.
In their heyday, teams like Boston and New York placed emphasis on winning these games in the spring – to a point. They should still be used to evaluate players and to make final roster decisions. However as the Orioles have found out over the past few seasons, winning is as much a mindset as losing. So it would behoove the O’s to play all of these spring games with the eye of the tiger in a sense, as opposed to just going through the motions.
At the end of the day if a game is lost on the heels of a pitcher slated for triple-A or on an error by a third base prospect, I don’t think Buck Showalter is going to lose too much sleep. But as I said, winning is a mindset, and it begins at the very bottom. I would submit that the O’s should look at Grapefruit League play as a proving grounds of sorts for the regular season. And that would indicate that they should expect to do more than just go through the motions of playing the games.