I began this little adventure. At the very least, I want to say I've had a more active offseason than the Orioles. Well, I actually don't want to say that at all, but I may as well clear the below-sea-level bar that Dan Duquette and Co. have set for me.
I'm trying to live a more purposeful life in some ways in this new year, prioritizing methods of self-care and day-to-day living that have gotten lost in the shuffle. That includes my writing, so here I am for as long as I can stick to it. Today's card came from my stocking, because my wife (and Santa Claus) knows what I like. So, how have you all been? As for me:
-First and foremost, I'm currently the father of a very active and curious 18-month-old. I can barely believe it myself. Finn is growing and learning every day, and he makes us laugh and melt and throw up our hands in frustration all at the same time. We brought him along to seven games at Camden Yards last year, and he ran up an impressive 6-0 mark before Dylan Bundy and a snoozy O's offense let him down in a 7-4 loss to the Yankees on September 4. But he seems to love the sights and sounds of the ballpark. When we rolled the dice and took Finn to his first night game on August 5 (my birthday, don'tcha know), he quite pointedly stayed awake and mostly alert throughout the club's 5-2 comeback win over Detroit. Staying up three-plus hours past bedtime and cheering for a three-homer outburst from Adam Jones, Tim Beckham, and Welington Castillo took its toll, of course...the kiddo was out cold in his car seat before we made it onto I-95 for the trip home.
I don't know if Finn will have a consistent love for baseball throughout childhood, but the early signs are good. One of his newest words is "hat", and he'll point to his bitty Oriole Bird cap on its perch by the kitchen door. When we take it down for him, he'll wear it around the house as he plays.
-My wife Janet has now officially been cancer-free since her surgery in September 2016. She finished radiation just before Christmas 2016, and wrapped up a clinical trial of an oral chemo drug last May. Her oncologist's preferred target is three years from the initial diagnosis - March 1, 2019 in this case. It seems so far away, but we will get there.
-As I alluded to above, it's as frustrating to be an Oriole fan right now as it has been in...five or more years, easily. The Birds just had their first losing season since 2011, and they truly earned it with some putrid starting pitching and a handful of lame offensive performances (paging Mark Trumbo). As the Yankees begin loading up on big names again, Baltimore...stands pat. They've already missed their window to trade Zach Britton for anything of value, and now he's out until at least July with an Achilles tear. They fielded offers for Manny Machado (who, to my frustration, they did not manage to extend at any point in the past six seasons, during which time it should have been priorities #1-10 on their list), unsurprisingly couldn't find anyone willing to part with two MLB-ready starting pitchers for a one-season rental, and backed off from declarations of Manny's availability. So, if you're not tearing down and rebuilding, what are you doing? Reloading for the season ahead? Forget that. Here's the list of pitchers that the Orioles have signed this offseason who project to join Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation, addressing the screaming need for a team whose starters barfed up a 5.70 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and .837 OPS allowed in 2017:
...Oops. C'mon, guys. Get creative, get aggressive, get...somebody. Mike Mussina isn't walking through that door, and if you don't wake up, even the likes of Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Jaime Garcia will be off limits.
-I don't want to end on a down note. Otherwise, life is good. We are rolling with the punches and doing what we can to make our world a little bit better. I hope you are too. As always, thanks for reading. Welcome back.