Rapid Hope Loss

By on April 25

Yesterday was Easter.  Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the Orioles.  They thought it was April Fools day again.

It all started out so well, didn’t it?  The Orioles flying high with a 4–0 record, pitching lights out, sweeping the Rays and leading the division.  Ah, the memories.  Since that time, the Orioles have been dreadful—not scoring runs when they get good pitching, other times not pitching well enough to even keep the team in the game, and most of the time finding a way to make a crucial mistake in a key situation.

For whatever reason, the Orioles seem to be just good enough to lose in heartbreaking fashion recently.

Yesterday’s defeat was particularly tough to take.  As much as I want to see all the positives that came out of it, the way they battled back after an embarrassing performance the previous evening, the way they worked Mariano Rivera and found a way to score a run in the bottom of the ninth, ultimately, what I’ll remember most is that this team can’t seem to avoid making critical errors when it matters most.

As Buck likes to remind us during commercial breaks, the Yankees aren’t spotted 3 runs because they have the largest payroll in baseball.  And while I think his comments are intended to communicate that his team won’t shy away from competition, I think we also need to interpret them to mean that we should divest ourselves of the notion that it’s reasonable to be satisfied just by playing well against successful teams.

While I understand the desire on the part of some fans to admire the way the team battled back in a tough situation, I think in order for the team to get back on the right track in the long term, we need to stop placing the Yankees and Red Sox on a pedestal by using them as a barometer of our own accomplishment.  In doing so, we’re only further aggrandizing their position, and lending merit to the notion that to have a good showing against them, irrespective of the result, is sufficient to demonstrate progress.

I would like to propose that it’s not.

Winning is sufficient to demonstrate progress.

While I respect and admire Mariano Rivera’s ability, I don’t want to hear about how we battled back and played hard against him.  The bottom line is that we lost.  Again.

Perhaps our outlook on a game like the one we had yesterday, or the current streak in which we find ourselves, is a function of how we perceived the team’s potential for success this season.  To the extent that any of us were optimistic (and I certainly was) it seems to me to be a contradiction in logic to suggest that we’re poised for success, but will readily celebrate a loss.

One of the quotes that stuck out in my mind when Showalter was introduced as manager last season was a quip about how he’ll know when he has the right players.  “We need more people who are upset after we lose,” Showalter said.

I agree.

While I’m not suggesting that Nick Markakis needs to take a baseball bat to the Gatorade machine after losing a single game in extra innings, I do think there needs to be a visceral response on the part of a team that starts out 6–1 and then proceeds to lose 10 of the next 12. Especially when that team has a history of letting whole seasons get away from them due to protracted losing streaks that send them into a tailspin.

While I stand firm in my belief that this is an improved baseball team, maybe even a greatly improved baseball team, it’s times like these that make me begin to wonder what unbelievable collection of talent will be required for the Orioles to escape from the shadow of their recent past.

We know it can happen.  We all watched it happen at the end of last season.  What remains to be seen, however, is if we can do it when it matters—if we can string together more wins than anyone in the AL East when we’re not already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

I think we can do it; I hope that we can.  But maybe in order to do it, we need to stop looking for silver linings, and start expecting wins.

2 Responses to “Rapid Hope Loss”

  1. Mark
    Mark says:

    You know I agree, given how frustrated (read: insanely angry) I was getting while we were watching the game. I just don’t want to have to give up on this team this early. Again. They’re running out of time before they dig themselves too big a hole to climb out of. I hope Buck realizes that. And I sure as hell hope he’s doing something about it.

  2. Casey says:

    I think there may be something to the Yankee and Red Sox agrandizing. It’s very apparent to me, that we just don’t play as well against these teams. We make thoughtless mistakes in the field and at the plate, our starters always seem to struggle, and of course our bullpen finds plenty of ways to cave in on itself. Despite Buck, it seems that nothing has changed.

    We’re getting better starting pitching, but because the offense is so horrible, we still lose. But the offense should improve in time. Nick’s not going to hit .217 all year, right?…right?

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