2012: The Year We Must Reconfigure Orioles Fandom (Temporarily)
The Loss Column will turn six years old in 2012. Six fuckin’ years. Kind of blows my mind. I actually thought it was only five years until I looked back and realized we’ve been publishing since ’06. Nuts.
Over that time we have come to be known as a basically optimistic bunch. We focus more on enjoying than hating and that’s by design. It’s an approach that has stilted the site’s potential growth but that, too, is by design. I do this because I want a certain kind of place to talk sports, Orioles in particular, and the traffic numbers don’t mean much in that regard. I lose money on this site every month and that’s OK. As long as we have a good group of commenters offering interesting thoughts on a regular basis I’m happy.
Now. With regard to the aforementioned black-and-orange, this year will test us like no other. “Optimism” is a weird and touchy concept these days. Because even the most dedicated among us must ask, if we are honest, what optimism and hope really mean for the 2012 Orioles.
In past years this hasn’t been the case. I’ve entered every season before this one with justifiable hope for a .500 team. Today, I can’t make that case. I survey the landscape of Orioles baseball and I see…damn it. Another losing season.
Maybe that’s a laugh-out-loud statement for the folks who love to hate but for me it’s a real change. I’ve always been able to see a path to winning. Sure it’d take some luck and sure it’d take some leaps but never would it defy logic. This year, 81 wins or more would defy logic.
So why do we watch? Why do we care? If our team isn’t going to win, why do we invest so much of ourselves in their activity?
This is where being an Orioles fan becomes not only interesting, but fun again.
This is my modus operandi for the season and this is my guiding light: it’s not about wins and losses.
To some extent this is always how I’ve felt. I’ve never watched for the outcome as much as I’ve watched for the process. But that was always kind of my weird thing. This year, it’s bigger than my thing. It’s a survival strategy.
If you go into this season with your enjoyment hinging on the win-loss record, you will be disappointed. If you tie your love of the team to their chances to make the playoffs, you will be disappointed. But you do not have to be disappointed.
This is a season of opportunity. This is our chance to love baseball for baseball, to love guys like Jones and Wieters and Matusz for who they are. And, as importantly, to watch what figures to be an epic amount of weirdness unfold as Dan Duquette‘s mad scientist ways play out.
This is a season to let go. To say “come what may” and really mean it.
Baseball was always meant to be enjoyed in the moment. Not only game-by-game but play-by-play and even pitch-by-pitch. As it happens, the Orioles of 2012 are the perfect vehicle for doing just that.
So I say, let go. Truly and fully. Embrace this ragtag and moribund bunch of misfits. Embrace baseball in Baltimore, played at Camden Yards. Embrace the fact that every single game, regardless of context, represents a chance to be delighted.
Your only other option is to give up and, well, do you really want to do that?
I’m telling you right now, in February, that the 2012 Orioles will not make the playoffs. And that they won’t finish above .500.
In the same breath I’m saying that this knowledge will not in any way hinder my ability to enjoy the season and nor should it hinder yours.
Every Orioles fan faces this choice. To me, it doesn’t seem like a terribly hard one to make. Let’s get after it.