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Orioles: When Baseball Season Arrives

New (2011) Orioles Cartoon Bird LogoI’ve remarked before, elsewhere and I think here, that time doesn’t fly. It accelerates. So much so that if you stop to think about it you’ll probably end up in a bad place. Ten years ago doesn’t seem that long. A few weeks or months sometimes feel like days. If you don’t know what I mean, you will.

Thankfully, there’s an antidote. Not to the disappearance of time — nobody loosens that grip — but to the acute feeling of it. That antidote is awareness. It’s remembering to pump the brakes. It’s listening to an old record (even digitally). It’s skipping the Keurig and making a decent cup of coffee. It’s letting go of the bullshit someone’s trying to lay on you. It’s cooking, not just heating, dinner. It’s recognizing the good things and letting them in.

Baseball is, for me, one of those good things. And I’m stoked it’s back.

Not only is it back, but for the first time since I was still in my teens it’s back with the Orioles on the plus side. Winning team. Playoff team. What could be better than that for a long-suffering fanbase? Maybe a World Series. Baby steps.

I didn’t have much to say this spring for a variety of reasons. Busy-ness, sure, but also because there wasn’t a whole lot to talk about. This was a workmanlike spring for the O’s and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. They went down to Florida and got ready for the season. Nice, tidy, and simple.

What’s more, I like this team. I like the pitching depth, I like the fact that they returned a playoff team mostly intact, and I like that they don’t have any issues hanging over their heads. As far as I can tell this looks like a group that’s aligned to a purpose and ready to get to work. Like it should be.

Prediction Time

Here’s the thread where we go on record. For me, it’s pretty simple: 87 wins. I think a very small fall back from last season’s high is somewhat inevitable, but I believe they’ll still be in the mix. I have a hunch they’ll be good enough for another Wild Card, although whether or not they get it could come down to a game here or there. However it plays out I definitely do not expect them to fall back below .500.

The reason is simple. You can win with a handful of stars (A, A+ players) surrounded by a bunch of C, C+ players or you can with with a whole roster of guys who net out around a B. I think the Orioles are the latter, and I think that beyond the raw talent they’ve got something else going for them: it’s a true team. That concept may not mean much when the talent isn’t there but when the talent’s good or good enough, playing well together makes a difference. That’s what I expect to see.

What about you?

I’m looking forward to the season, folks. I hope you are too.

30 comments to Orioles: When Baseball Season Arrives

  • g

    I think 87 wins is a reasonable guess, give or take, and I believe that number is attainable.

    Down the lineup card, this team can hit AND play some D. It’s important that Hammel stays healthy but I think the key to 90+ wins is Arrieta pitching consistently well.

    I think it’s great to be underestimated. Buck will continue with the consistent message, the “B”-team (thanks, Neal) boys’ confidence will blossom and we’ll be in the hunt come Sept. Playing well *together* will make a difference.

    Up here in Red Sux Nation the pressure is tangible. Desperation is at an intensity I haven’t seen in the 30 years since I left MD. The expectation to improve upon their abysmal ’12 season combined with their perennial inferiority complex with the Yanks is making for much hand-wringing…and some really nauseating advertisements on TV.

    Let’s! Go! O’s!!!!!

  • sci

    Rays: 93 wins
    Jays: 90 wins
    O’s: 90 wins (one of these two gets the wild card)
    Yanks: 83 wins
    Boston: 78 wins

    Love where this team is and where it is headed.

  • dan the man

    I’m going 93. Feels right.

    And they won’t match their one-run or extra inning record because they won’t have to. Full seasons from guys that didn’t have full seasons last year will make up the difference of appearing to not acquire any big names this offseason. The depth at AAA is even better than last year.

    I am so pumped for this season to get rolling.

    Also, I encourage all to join me on the Blue Jays Hate Train this year. I don’t buy that team, and if you listened to any ST games on the Jays radio this year, then I need say no more. I’ll always hate on the Yankees and Sox, but those teams are awfully vanilla these days.

    Go O’s!

  • Dan H

    This is totally unrelated and I haven’t been here in a while for which I apologize… but we still dislike Ken Rosenthal yes? I stopped reading anything by him a long time ago thanks to Neal making me aware of the ridiculous shit that he writes about the O’s. So I didn’t read him when the O’s went to the playoffs or thru the spring. Just wondering if the sentiment has changed.

    I ask because I got into it with him on twitter about an hour ago after he tweeted, and I have to paraphrase from memory because he blocked me so I can’t embed or anything, but this is close:

    “My most memorable Opening Day was in ’88 when the Orioles lost 11-0 and said it was just one game and went to lose 20 in a row!”

    That would fall under the “hating” category and was completely uncalled for, correct? So I tweeted at him a sarcastic tweet that basically called him a hack with negative bias toward the O’s, that was admittedly a little out of line and something I don’t normally do but I really didn’t think he would respond. but then he did asking if I had read his stuff this spring and those don’t count?? (I hadn’t) So I googled some stuff and he wrote a Capt. Obvious article about how Bundy and Gausman are going to be good, and then a nice piece on Brian Roberts but that was it.

    I responded by explaining why that tweet pissed me off and why I don’t read his stuff and a little back and forth ensued and then he told me to unfollow and then was like “wait better yet, you’re blocked!” So yeah that happened and it made me think of TLC so I thought I would drop by and pass that along.

    Has he changed his tune or does he still shit on the O’s whenever he can?

  • neal s

    @ Dan H: I can honestly say I haven’t given Rosenthal any thought for awhile. It’s entirely possible that he’s changed his tune but I couldn’t say for sure. Either way it’s ridiculous that he blocked you. There’s nothing funnier than media guys with big mouths and thin skin. Dan Rodricks is the same way. He once wrote a column about pit bulls being inherently bad so I said to him (paraphrasing) “Wildly irresponsible column about pit bulls. And, Dan, I think you know it.” Boom! Blocked. He didn’t even bother to try to defend himself.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    if rosenthal is a hack, rodricks is hack jr. i’m kind of bummed van valkenburg moved on to better things. oh well.

    the orioles remind me of the ravens all of a sudden, team wise. outsiders seem to consistently remark that they rarely see teams that close. guys hanging out year round, all the way down the roster. that’s pretty impressive and enough for me to agree with buster olney.

    there is NO ONE in the al east that is scary. have you seen tampa bay’s lineup? toronto is a fake team. and the yanks and sox are the opposite of close and have colostomy bags up and down their lineup (many of whom won’t play most of the year)

    o’s 94-68
    tb 92-70
    ny who cares
    tor 82-80
    bos who cares

  • dan the man

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    Yes! That’s what I’m talking about.

    Toronto is the fakest team. Josh Johnson is the only pitcher on that staff that really scares me, which amounts to the equivalent of Tampa and David Price.

    I pay less attention to the Kens and the Keiths of the Orioles Hater Club these days. The O’s are a fun, competitive, talented team of likeable dudes. The cartoon bird is a hilarious troll. Buck and DD make for an interesting, weird, capable team of baseball men (the playoff locker room hug!). The farm system is getting there, we’re acquiring international talent, Brady freaking Anderson is Assistant GM (!) and Czar of You Better Fucking Work Out This Offseason. They put out cheesy videos, there’s a roofdeck bar in the stadium, and Buck does stuff like this.

    I just love it. This is the most fun the organization has been in decades.

  • O’s 93 wins.
    then TB
    then Toronto
    then NY
    then Boston.

  • dan the man

    It’s like getting the band back together in this thread.

    I half expect Andrew to come in here with some bummer stat, but he’s apparently fully entrenched in some role of the FO of the Pirates. Wild.

  • @ dan the man:
    O’s on a mission from God?

  • dan the man

    @ Ryan:
    They’re on a mission from BUCK, lol.

    BTW, no more updates on your blog?

  • g

    Nice to get those bats going after those LOBs early in the game. Great win!

  • dan the man

    How clutch is Adam Jones?

    Just another day at the office for these guys.

    That was a treat.

  • dan the man

    Uncharacteristic bullpen implosion, but I think they’ll be fine.

    14 runs in 2 games against the Rays staff? That’s reason to be encouraged.

  • @ dan the man: Man, I’m trying to revive it, but I’m slammed with Baltibrew (baltibrew.org if you’re interested) and another less public project. Gotta’ get it done soon though, I want to go to the N. American Beer Bloggers Conference in Boston this summer. Can’t rightly do that with a dead blog.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    chris davis is going to be a rich man. love the offensive output…pitching is a little bothersome but who cares when you have a one man wrecking crew.

  • What can you say about Chris Davis that hasn’t been said already?

    Equally important, and not said enough – how about the way everyone’s getting on base ahead of him? The market correction we’re seeing so far this year is that the bombs aren’t solo shots. Jonesy is tearin’ it up and Wieters is off to his typical strong start. Gotta love it.

    When I saw Neal and Sci last week, I think I went with 85 wins. I’m upgrading that prediction to 90. Just need the pitching to knuckle-under a bit. And I believe they will.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    well that sucked but macfarland looked awesome

  • Let’s hope that means everyone in the bullpen(except O’Day) has their crummy outings out of their systems.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    0-3 in one run games. oof. take it out on the sox and yanks i say.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    bad night to have band practice, apparently

  • g

    Flaherty is off the schnide. Let’s take the series tonight and string together a few wins.

  • dan the man

    2 weeks between posts makes me sad. 🙁

    O\’s are 6-6.. I’ll pretty much take that. A couple games stand out as shoulda-been-wins: the bullpen implosion game early on, and the Jones 3-run error.

    The bullpen looks great again, it’s just the starting pitching that hasn’t quite rounded into form yet. Chen is a hard luck starter and getting no run support.

    I think this actually misses Wilson Betemit. Feel good about Arrieta tonight.. Go O’s!

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    man WHAT a play by machado in the 9th. is anyone else done with strop? benitez jr.

  • neal s

    @ dan the man: I’m still here, but I’m in the process of buying a house and it’s every bit as stressful as folks say it is. My mental energy is taxed. Things will settle down soon.

    Meanwhile, I’m guest blogging at MASN again. First post up last week, second one tomorrow. Full post here tomorrow bringing things up to speed. By May it should all be regular again.

    Also: fuckin’ hell of a win tonight. Strop’s a problem but damn if this group isn’t continuing to display some incredible resilience.

  • dan the man

    @ neal s:
    I hear ya, good to hear. Congrats on the house!

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    I dunno if I get the Strop hate from O’s fans recently. He’s allowed runs in 2 of his 6 appearances. In his first appearance, the defense let him down and he got kind of dinked and dunked. Last night, he got two easy outs in the 7th and probably shouldn’t have come out for the 8th, although he has to be able to do that. He lost command and then Longo jumped on a first-pitch fastball. So yeah, that sucked, but I think he’ll be fine. To me, it doesn’t relate to him tiring at the end of last year, but I guess we’ll see.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    @ dan the man:

    his stuff is the nastiest on the team. his tendency to just completely lose his composure after a close call that doesn’t go his way is frustrating though. the shot they showed of buck in the dugout after the walk before the home run last night is pretty much exactly how i feel when it starts happening. i realize that he’s too good to give up on but i wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing less of him in closer games, if not in general.

  • Andrew_G

    @ dan the man:
    Am I really that much of a bummer? Oh, now I’m sad…

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew_G:
    Just jokes. At least the O’s are performing adequately pythag style this year.

  • dan the man

    Oh, Jonesy… what are we going to do with you?