Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Orioles: One Week Until It's Over

There's no disguising, a bird of a different color will rule the roost in a few more days...
One Week to Go

The Baltimore Orioles have one week left to make any move or statement that will assure fans or the 2010 season is over, and if the sight of empty seats was tough to take in April, the prospects for August and September could be even worse.

One week from today, July 27, the Baltimore Ravens open training camp at McDaniels College in Westminster, Maryland. From that point on, all attention will be on the Ravens who look like a solid contender to go deep in to the playoffs in the season ahead. Local sports coverage will focus on competition for positions, interviews with players and coaches as they prepare for the season ahead. On Thursday, August 12th, the Ravens play their first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers and once those games start, the attention on football will grow even greater.

All that will be left for the Orioles will be begrudging and obligatory notice – no passion, nothing interesting – the same old same old. Brian Roberts could return to action soon. His presence, sharp fielding, clutch hitting, and base running instincts will give the Orioles some more offense, but will it matter?

The young pitchers of Tillman, Matusz, and Arietta are at a stage in their careers where they can be expected to struggle as they master the craft of pitching on the major league level, but are they growing, standing still, or falling back. They don’t appear to be getting the guidance to allow them to grow.

The Orioles simply are accustomed to losing. They take it in stride and move on. Listen to the Ravens talk when camp opens and notice how almost every sentence has “winning” in it. Listen to the Orioles. How much talk does one hear about WINNING BALLGAMES?

Jim Palmer suggested last summer that when the Yankees come to town, the young Orioles should be focused intently on how Derek Jeter prepares for a game. Perhaps some of them should arrange a morning field trip, and discretely observe how the Ravens prepare. It would be nice if Ray Lewis would pay a courtesy call to the Orioles locker room and give them a little motivational pep talk, but does Lewis have that kind of time to waste? Heck no, he’ll invest his time off the field to endeavors that show hope.

Last week it looked like there was a darned good shot Buck Showalter would be named the Orioles manager? Where is he? Here we go again. The Orioles are slow to make commitments and close the deal. Every day that goes by, it looks like the Showalter solution won’t happen. Buck can’t turnaround the team at the snap of a finger, but he’s surely the best bet to run this team since Davey Johnson.

The Orioles were 15-39 when Dave Trembley was fired. That’s a .278 record that would take them to historical failure. Since Juan Samuel was thrown in the hot seat, the team is 14-24, a .368 record. A .368 record equals 102 losses. At their current pace, they’ll finish at 51-111. Their four miserable losses since the All-Star break erased their highlight of the season, four straight wins in Texas. In these four losses, they’ve scored six runs against giving up 25 runs to the opposition, as in 6 ½ runs a game.

As the season goes by, whatever the Orioles do doesn’t seem to matter much to Baltimore. It appears that most fans have packed it in and moved on. They don’t follow the team any longer. Who can stand the punishment?

Andy McPhail, very well, could be the best man around right now to lead the Orioles rebuilding effort, but some personnel moves couldn’t turn out to be more embarrassing especially the horrible failure of Garrett Atkins that blew up in his face having played in 44 games only hitting ONE homerun, 9 RBI’s, and 30 hits in 140 at bats, a miserable .214 batting average. Mike Gonzalez signed as closer completely blew up in the first three games of the season losing two games in three outings then disappearing from sight for the rest of the year so far with an arm injury. So what did the Orioles get for Aubrey Huff who is doing quite nicely playing first base in San Francisco? What will Brett Jacobson mean to the Orioles future? Well, he’s looking good in relief at Frederick.

The Orioles brass of President Andy McPhail and Owner Peter Angelos are battling a two headed monster – attempting to gain the personnel that will make the Orioles competitive in the toughest division in pro sports and winning back a fan base that has all but given up on a team that has not had a winning record since 1997. That’s how long the city was without Football between the Colts wretched departure and the Ravens arrival.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? If the Orioles make a major move once the Ravens open camp, will anyone notice?

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