You wouldn’t know from what has been written at this blog so far, but I am a Baltimore Orioles fan. I have been extremely quiet online about the Orioles (other than to question who, if anyone, can pitch)-but normally, I will comment about the team and their successes and struggles with other fans and fans of opposing teams. Looking at this year’s team so far, fans are waiting for them to become consistent. If the pitching has been good, which it has been mostly as of the last few weeks, the bats are running hot and cold. When the hitters are on fire, as they were earlier in the season, games had to be won by outscoring the other team.
Usually when baseball season rolls around, I write a post about how spring and the coming of the baseball season signal a sign of hope and renewal. Those posts were written after seasons where the Orioles would come off a losing season (there were fourteen in a row at one point), and all I would hope for is a return to respectability. Since Buck Showalter became manager, the Orioles have had three consecutive winning seasons, two playoff appearances and one appearance in last year’s American League Championship series. To say that hopes were high, even after losing players like Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, for a playoff return and a possible World Series appearance and win would not be overstating things.
However, this year’s team has run hot and cold, and at what could be considered the quarter-mark of the season, the Orioles are in fourth place in the American League East, behind Tampa Bay, the Yankees and the Red Sox. Depending on what the Rays did last night, the Orioles will either be two or three games behind the leader, so it isn’t as if they are being left way behind in the division race. At present, no one seems to be running away with the division. However, I sense that fans of the Orioles are getting a little nervous-when you win the division by a full twelve games last season and don’t see the same results at the start of the following season, you can get a little nervous.
However, a look at last year’s record after the same number of games played shows that the team is only two games off last year’s pace. The Orioles currently sit at 20-22, whereas last season they were 22-20 after 42 games. Fans also have to remember they struggled like this for about two and a half months last year, and didn’t take over the division lead for good until just before the All-Star break. So there is still time to get things moving in the right direction, and there are signs that if and when everyone gets healthy, the Orioles will be better than they have been. Using last season as a guide, I wouldn’t say it is time to panic just yet, even if fans would like to see all phases of the team start to come together to build consistency and start winning more ball games.
My advice: breathe. Let’s see where the Orioles are and how they are playing at the halfway point, or near the All-Star break. Then we can adjust our sense of panic or calm accordingly.