Where we look at how 19-6 can be considered an improvement and then defy the myth that early season games don't matter.
Yes, the Orioles got SHELLACKED the other day. Once again, they were in a position to sweep a series and failed miserably. But it could have been worse. How much worse? Does August 22nd, 2007 ring a bell? It should. It was the day Andy MacPhail took the “interim” tag off of Dave Trembly's title, then the Rangers took the bats to the Orioles in a scene reminiscent of Robert DeNiro in the Untouchables (Part. Of. A. TEAM.). They gave up 11 less runs overall (and 18 less EARNED Runs, which is also a big point). Think about 12-6. Still hurts, right? But not nearly as bad as 19-6 (or 30-3). And again, the Orioles won the series. I will gladly take 2 wins followed by an ugly loss (and all of our losses have been ugly).
So the O's are now winners of 3 straight series to start the season, something they haven't done since 1998, back when THEY were a big market team. Back then they opened with *4* straight series wins. Of course, those 4 series were home and aways against the Royals and the Tigers. Wins against the Rays and Yankees (no matter their current record) are much more impressive and important. Why? We'll get to that in a moment. But first, a look at what has to happen in order for the 2009 Orioles to tie the Ray Miller-led 1998 club in early season success.
Time to face the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox that are 3-6. The Red Sox that are in last place in the division. The Red Sox with one of their star pitchers on the DL and another appealing suspension. The Red Sox where their most feared hitter has one extra base hit (a double). A Red Sox team that has to be licking their chops at the thought of facing the Orioles' pitchers. Hell, right now I feel like I could go 1-4 with an RBI against that staff.
There is now talk that Bergesen will be called up from Norfolk to take Alfredo Simon's spot. For the sake of the long term future of this franchise I hope not. They have another Tides' pitcher on the 40 man roster that is not considered part of the main youth movement (and not one of the Young Guns) and therefore not as vital to keep off the major league service clock. His name is David Hernandez, and he is a starting pitcher for the Tides. He started on April 12th and went 4 2/3 innings with a 1.93 ERA. Bergesen would be on schedule to pitch on Monday since he pitched on the 15th, but I would like to keep him down in the minors for at least a FEW more starts. Having his first ever ML start in Fenway, on Patriot's Day (the ONLY game for ANY teams that starts before noon in ANY season), in front of a bunch of rabid fans is not how I want one of what I hope will be the cornerstones of a revitalized franchise in the next 2-3 years to be introduced to the Show.
Guthrie and Uehara are scheduled to pitch in 2 of the 4 games, so there is every chance that we will be in 2 of the 4 games. And if we can split this series we end the road trip 4-3, and any road trip that ends with more wins than losses is an unqualified success, especially for a team that has had as little success as the Orioles for the last dozen or so years. A win is a win. Which leads me to my final point for this post.
I have heard for years about “crunch time” and how much more the games mean at the end of the season when the pennant races are getting tight. And those games are exciting, no doubt about it. But the only way they have any meaning is if the games in April, May, and June put the team in a position to make noise in July and August. I don't care when you win or lose (except in the postseason). If you win 95 games by the end of July and take August off, you still have 95 wins. The only sport where when you win and lose REALLY matters is college football, because the BCS is weighted to favor teams that end hot. As far as I am concerned, 4 wins vs. 2 losses with series wins against 2 teams IN OUR DIVISION (and 2 teams that have big postseason expectations) are as big right now as they would be in August.
No one is realistically expecting the Orioles to play .600+ baseball all season. It has been said by pundits and reporters all across the papers, online, and on the airwaves, that we need to enjoy the success the Orioles are having right now for as long as they can sustain it. And as much as I would love a repeat of the 1989 “Why Not” team, baseball is a different game 20 years later and I don't think it will happen. That doesn't mean I am rooting against it happening. It just means that I am not going to expect it to happen. So at the risk of being redundant, enjoy the fact that the Orioles are near the top of the division right now and worry about tomorrow after the game tonight.
About the Author
Written by Ron Burr
Ron is a lifelong resident of Maryland and has been a passionate player and fan of sports for as long as he can remember. When he is not watching the games or explaining to his lovely wife why he is cursing at the television, he runs an improv/sketch comedy troupe, Drop Three. He can't hit a curveball or run a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, but he knows the games and loves talking about it with anyone. Differing opinions are welcome and encouraged!