…wherein the former Secretary of Defense offers a succinct analogy of the 2009 Baltimore Orioles…
So, in 2003, during a press conference, Donald Rumsfeld was asked a question about America's ongoing War against Terror and how the effort was going in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is how he responded…
“As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know”…
That pretty much covers it, as far a I am concerned.
Let me explain.
At the outset of this season, we as fans could reasonably expect to see some improved defense (especially in the middle of the field) and a decent to top half of the league offense. Pitching…well, that was on the way. And for the first couple of months that is exactly what we got. Offense early and often, defense better than average (and MUCH better than last year), and pitching that was a major reason we were fighting for a good draft pick again this year. And then, all of a sudden, things started changing. The team, out of necessity, started bringing up some young arms, and they were good. The bats were still hitting, especially in the clutch. Young'uns were brought up to play the field, and they were good. Luke Scott comes off the DL and starts acting like Babe Ruth, only without the hooch or the hoochies. The team got through what was roundly considered to be a rough part of the schedule and was moving into what could only be considered an easier stretch. They won 5 out of 6 and in the midst of that brought up The Most Interesting Catcher In The World (I don't know if you know this, but his birth was prophesied by the Mayans). Then they ran into the buzzsaw of…Seattle and Oakland? Really? The bats go silent, the defense gets shaky, our starting shortstop (who is officially a few weeks from his 31st birthday, but at this point I put about as much faith in Latin American birth records as I do in an unplanned outcome in Wrestlemania) has a problem with his appendix, requiring emergency surgery. The Felix Pie Experiment (I'm still looking for a bass player for my new Guitar Hero band of the same name) looks as if it is going to get some serious time to get to play and see if it can correct itself and become a viable major leaguer, then in the 1st inning he fouls a ball straight down that bounces right up and hits him on the Adam's Apple (not as cringe worthy as watching the Jason Kendall running to first base replay, but it still makes me wince when I think of it).
And while there are many known unknowns and unknown unknowns, there is one known known that is so known that it has never been said, it is just known…if your starter cannot get out of the 1st inning, odds are you are not going to win that many games.
2 times in a 3 game span, the starter lasts 2/3 of an inning. Hell, we could have kept Daniel Cabrera if that wsa going to be a repeated outcome. At least he would get pissed, plunk a guy on the ass, and we would get some coverage on SportsCenter. Now we don't even have THAT going for us! At one point I was questioning the Baseball Gods for giving us 2 days off bookending a 6 game road trip. Now I see that it was part of that Mayan prochesy that the starters would suck so much wind that without those days off then our bullpen's collective pitching arms would have come off like Phil Hartman's in the All Drug Olympics (Hulu search snl drug olympics for the video, as my google-fu here at work is failing miserably to get around the firewalls and corporate blockades). Uehara is due to come back from the DL soon, and all we can hope is that if the heat and humidity of MAY in Baltimore is enough to cramp him up, that JULY in Baltimore won't turn him into a human pretzel (or if it does, it is during one of the games MASN is broadcasting in HD). Chris Tillman is making a case for a call up sooner rather than later (even after giving up 3 runs in 5 innings last start in his last start on June 7th, his ERA is STILL 2.25), and now there is talk that the team is willing to move Guthrie if the offer is right (supposedly they have to be “wowed”), which is surprising when you consider his relative cost (he is arbitration eligible after this season, but even so he shouldn't be cost prohibitive), his attitude and demeanor both as a pitcher and as a mentor to the young arms (with bodies attached to them, in case you lean towards the macabre) as they come up. No one thinks he is a true #1 starter in the league (although he is the best thing we have right now on the team), but he would be all but invaluable as a 3 or 4 if any of these mewling babes can make the jump to fulfilling their promise, helping them through the bumps and bruises of a major league season (kind of like Rick Sutcliffe was to Mike Mussina in the early 90's). But with all of that said regarding Guthrie, I have faith in MacPhail, who in just under 2 years turned our farm system from laughingstock to viable pipeline with a few twinges of envy from some other teams, and has brough a single, unified, achieveable vision of how to bring this team back to respectability, and is accomplishing it in real time, with noticeable results.
And along those lines, I don't think enough has been said about Adam Jones and his improvement from last year to this year (although he needs to lay off the up and inside pitches that he is getting busted with lately). And while Wieters is not exactly hitting 25 run home runs yet (at least not HERE), he is not chasing bad pitches or expanding the strike zone, nor is he letting it affect his performance behind the plate. He calls a fast game (watch how quickly the pitchers are getting the ball back, getting the signal, and getting the target and how quickly they are delivering the next pitch. It is a thing of beauty), and he calls a good game. You have to believe that the bat will come around (yes, he murdered pitching on every level of theminors, but there is a reason these pitchers are not in the minor leagues).
Since we opened this post with a quote from Donald Rumsfeld, it seems only natural that we close it with a quote from Axl Rose…
“All we need is just a little patience…”
I really wanted to put something from Chinese Democracy here, but when the best part of an album is that I got a free Dr. Pepper because it was finally released this year, I thought it best to not put any of it's words to print.
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!