Baltimore Orioles: Does the season hang in the balance?
Does the 2016 Baltimore Orioles season hang in the balance based on manager Buck Showalter’s approach now?
It doesn’t take long to get manager Buck Showalter ready for Baltimore Orioles’ spring training. He’s said on more than one occasion that as we get through January and he starts to get ansy, his wife Angela tells him that it’s probably time for him to head down to Sarasota. And that’s a good thing; if your manager isn’t ready to go by then he’s probably in the wrong business!
Showalter’s attention to detail is the stuff of legends of course by now. It’s to the point that some feel there were times he went overboard in previous managerial stints. I don’t buy into that theory because I firmly believe that one can never be too careful and thus attention to detail is never a bad thing. But there are some that say he was fired because he became too consumed with details.
Nevertheless, Showalter’s teams are always ready and well-prepared. And that really starts with what we’re seeing now in spring training. Granted the full team workouts don’t begin until next week, however make no mistake about the fact that many of the regulars are already in camp. And that’s another thing; in years past veteran players probably wouldn’t have reported to camp this early – since August of 2011 however, there’s been a new sheriff in town.
And here’s the point in me saying all of this; what occurs between now and March 1st (the beginning of Grapefruit League play), might well be the most important part of the season. It’s entirely possible that the success or failure of the Orioles’ 2016 campaign hangs in the balance on something that might happen in the next few days. Scary thought, isn’t it?!
Pitchers and catchers work on their rapport together, fielders work on their moves, and hitters try to get their timing back during these workouts. That’s a process that continues into Grapefruit League play, however this is where it starts. In effect, we can sum up all of those things in one term: fundamentals. Often times people think baseball just about hitting the ball and running, but it’s the fundaentals that make the season tick.
And when the season gets into the dog days, there might come a moment where players harken back to a moment that’s occurring now on the back fields of Sarasota. Perhaps something a coach said, did, or suggested that might register or ring a bell. That one small piece of the fundamentals of the game may well pop into a player’s mind at a key moment in a game of supreme importance.
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And as I said, Buck Showalter’s teams are always prepared. So if that one piece of knowledge pops into that player’s mind right when it’s needed, it could help the Orioles win an important game. So while the games aren’t anywhere near starting yet, something that’s learned or suggested now could well be the difference between winning and losing down the stretch.
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Incidentally, the Orioles are making their workouts open to the public at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. They will open the Grapefruit Leauge season on March 1st at Atlanta (in Orlando), and then they’ll return home to Sarasota for the home opener the next day against that same Atlanta team. Of course I wouldn’t expect the same players to be facing off against one another on those days, as teams’ travel rosters are rarely more than a few token regulars. Especially early in spring training.