If you remember current Nationals utility man Willie Harris' time with the Orioles, you must have a better memory and a higher threshold for pain than I do. The speedy outfielder from Cairo, GA (birthplace of Jackie Robinson) made his major league debut with the O's in September 2001, collecting three hits in 24 at-bats over nine games. The following January, he was traded to the White Sox for the utterly forgettable Chris Singleton.
"Utterly forgettable" sums up much of that 2001 season, the fourth of twelve straight losing seasons in Baltimore (and counting). The Birds fell to ten games under .500 on July 16 and just kept sliding, finishing a game and a half out of the cellar at 63-98, 32.5 games behind the first-place Yankees. It was the pitifully unfitting end of an era, as Cal Ripken, Jr. and Brady Anderson played their final games in Camden Yards. Meanwhile, among the other 44 players to suit up in orange and black were a few guys who you may not have recognized as O's: In addition to Harris, there was Rock Raines (as blogged about here), future Indians and Dodgers third baseman/beard aficionado Casey Blake (2-for-15 before being offered back to the Twins on waivers), and journeyman lefty John Wasdin, who shares my birthday and my talent for pitching (if his 5.28 career ERA is any indication). Oh, and somebody named Kris Foster, a former 39th-round pick of the Expos, pitched in seven games.
Just let some of those names wash over you, as well as the rest of the not-ready-for-MLB players. Thankfully, I was a freshman in college in 2001, and I willfully ignored much of this hideous season. I've got enough baseball-related mental scarring as it is.