Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Glenn Davis, 1991 Classic II #T6
Well, it took fully half of the baseball season, but the Orioles waited until they were sure that everyone was strapped securely to the bandwagon, and then pushed it straight off of a cliff. Next stop: Hell.
Am I being hyperbolic? Perhaps just a bit. I've been girding myself for the eventual tumble, knowing that the O's spent a few months winning in spite of themselves. They've allowed more total runs than they've scored for a good chunk of the season, the team defense could charitably be described as "1970s kitchen decor ugly", the hitters have been striking out and hitting into double plays like nobody's business, and the starting rotation could be summed up as "Hammel and Chen, and what happens then?". They say it's better to be lucky than good, and with a plus-.500 record that was built predominately on an improbable 10-game winning streak in extra-innings games, the Birds were playing with house money.
All the same, I've been a bit gobsmacked by the suddenness and totality of the team's collapse. All at once, Hammel is on the shelf with knee surgery, and every other non-Chen starter is a meatball-throwing bumbler. The bullpen is so overtaxed that no amount of Buck Showalter juggling can keep the relievers from wearing out and subsequently turning into arsonists. The errors that were a cause of frustration in the spring are now surefire backbreakers. And of course the offense is non-existent. Those blasted Yankees have scored at least 3 runs in each of their last 42 games, a franchise record. Meanwhile the O's have averaged 3 runs over their last 27 games, scoring 0, 1, or 2 runs 14 times in that span. When the Orioles fall apart, they don't do it halfway.
I've watched these losing skids year-in and year-out, and it's as discouraging as can be. Every day brings another game that seems destined to be another heartache, another early deficit turned into a sleepwalk or an early lead turned into a blown opportunity. The schedule is relentless, and you wonder how you could have ever enjoyed baseball. Any small measure of success - a winning record after 5, 20, 40, or even 80 games - gives you the flickering hope that this will be a new year. Maybe injuries and underperformance even drag the more talented teams in the league down close to Baltimore's level. The illusion kept itself going longer than usual this year, but here we are in July and I'm once again feeling like a chump.