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Orioles: No Comfort In the “Spoiler” Role

Once again — as has so often occurred — the Orioles‘ late-season games against division opponents are “spoiler” games. As in, there is supposed (or imagined) comfort for both players and fans in rising up to defeat a contender, thereby making a dent in that team’s playoff hopes. In the past I have, along with many, indulged this narrative. No more. There is nothing to it, and I refuse to take anything from it.

There’s surely something compelling about rooting for the O’s to play spoiler against a division opponent. “If we can’t have it,” the thinking goes, “at least maybe we can keep them from having it.” What I’ve come to realize of late is that this thinking only carries weight if at some point there was a reasonable expectation that we might also have it. That, after all, is where the fun comes in. If your team is five or six games out after a hard-fought year and their playoff chances are fading there’s something to the idea of taking another team down along the way. It could salvage an “almost” year.

I can’t get on that train for a “never was” year. I could take pride in being an also-ran that made a difference, but taking pride in being a never-ran seems foolish. Desperate, even. I want the Orioles to get their house in order and actually be there at the end. Failing that, I’m not stoked on any effect they might or might not have on the playoff fortunes of other teams. It’s a consolation prize. I don’t want it, at least not until the promise of a real prize becomes legitimate.

To be clear, I still take joy in the wins. I’m glad when they beat the Rays, as they just did. That’s great. Alfredo Simon pitching well is a good thing. Wieters hitting a homer is a good thing. I’ll take it game-by-game. I still care.

What I won’t do is care what effect such wins have on the playoff picture because the playoffs go like this: the Orioles never had a chance. That needs to be fixed. To hell with the Rays, Sox, and Yankees. A pox on all their houses.

There’s a part of me that wants the Rays to make it over the Sox, sure. And I’ll always root against the Yankees no matter who they’re playing. But we have bigger issues that truly cannot be ignored. Spoilers or not, we’re not in the playoff conversation and getting there is, from this point forward, the only goal with which I’m concerned. I have a hunch I might not be alone in that.

7 comments to Orioles: No Comfort In the “Spoiler” Role

  • DM

    The Orioles have dropped into a tie in the reverse standings, even with Minnesota. Do they want the second draft pick or don’t they? Geez.

  • dan the man

    Agree completely. Who really cares about being a spoiler. I mean if it came down to one O’s/Sox game that meant Tampa got in instead of the Red Sox, sure, that’d be kind of a fun game to watch. But other than that, it’s all bullshit. I’m watching to see if the young players get better and see what might be up going into the offseason.

    That Wieters home run was a bomb, by the way. I’ll take his steady incremental improvements right to the bank.

    I’m also enjoying watching Strop, which seems like a nice trade so far, and Phillips/Patton contributing as some interesting bullpen lefties. Chris Davis has been good recently after his K binge.

    But clearly (and sadly) the most intriguing thing to watch in regards to the Orioles is what happens with the front office. Here we are yet again with a failed team, awaiting word on the next sad bloke to come in and try his hand at what is apparently the hardest job in baseball.

    P.S. You’re a dick, Adam Loewen.
    P.P.S. Speaking of Canada, how have we not talked about Bedard pitching for the Red Sox yet?

  • Adam Loewen rocked the Red Sox world today and I winced then thought of you bastards.

  • neal s

    The Pirates clinched yet another losing season today, which I guess makes their 2011 something equivalent to our 2005. Minus the whole thing with a legend getting busted for steroids. And minus Lee Mazzilli.

  • Mike R

    the O’s magic number is 3

  • dan the man

    That’s a shame about the Pirates – that would have been really interesting seeing them in the playoffs.

    Koji has a 5+ ERA in Texas. Weird.

  • Ballmer Bruce

    No major deal, but with 7 games left with the Sux, it would be sweet to help knock them out of the playoffs.