Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Worst Oriole Team Ever?

Local Baltimore radio stations play ads for upcoming O's games that start, "The Orioles gave it a shot last night," referring to another loss in hopes of drawing fans to the yard. The millions of dollars being paid to these people to wear the name of the city on their uniform and play a childhood game should be enough to require that they do a little more than just try. In other words, what those ads are really saying is this; we're out manned, out coached, and out of our opponent's league--which might be true.

The only way for the current collection of salaries and contracts known as the 2010 Baltimore Orioles to win a game this season is for the other team to simply forget to do so. This is currently happening for one game a week, usually on a Monday or a Tuesday where the other team isn't quite sure where it is. Yankees are beatable on off-days after big series. That's the only time to get them.

Last night, the A's woke up in the 8th and beat the Orioles after Brad Bergesen pitched a two-hitter. The relievers were ineffective. The hitters were anemic with runners in scoring position.

After 12 years of losing by any manner possible, it was easy to predict that the Orioles wouldn't win the second and third game of the last weekend's series against the Nationals after surrendering a 6-3 lead on Saturday. Down 7-6, they weakly acquiesced and then made a valiantly effort to tie the game in the ninth on Sunday, only to lose on a walk-off home run. The Nationals are on a faster track to success and they lost their general manager last year.

Losers are not resilient, they pack it in, and fold up. There's a fragile consistency to this group of Birds. It's this subtle. In a game a few weeks ago, the Orioles managed to tie the score in the fifth. The Oriole pitcher shut down the team in the next frame. The Orioles came up and batted so quickly -- 5 to 7 minutes max -- that the inning was over. They swung at first pitches and went down so fast I couldn't believe the inning had ended. Right back out there almost immediately, the O's pitcher had zero rest and surrendered the go ahead runs.

It's enough to make me think that there must be nine or ten players around the Baltimore area, local prospects who are working middle-class jobs, who could help this team like pitcher Dave Johnson did in 1989. It's a baseball town to some degree and a kind of American "Oriole" Idol approach might be worth considering. Going to watch the rising talent at the local highs schools has not been part of the strategy, seeing as Mark Texeira was right under the noses of the worst front office dictatorship in all baseball.

I'm not sure anyone in the current line-up would start for a contending team. It's minor-league level or retirement time talent at best. We've become a place for marginal talent to extend their careers--no rebuilding for the future or rekindling the Oriole way which is part of the marketing machine on Eutaw street.

Our free agent strategy has always been abysmal. National league players who come over have a tough time measuring up and frankly are not going to get the job done--Sabo, G. Davis, Lopez, Mercker, DeJean, and now Gonzalez and Adkins have joined this illustrious group of busts. we keep bringing them in.

You can fire Dave Trembley to make everyone feel like change is in the offing, but frankly, he's been dealt a weak hand. The entire organization needs to do more than just "give it a shot."

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Daily Camden

If there is any solace to be gained from this train wreck of an Oriole season, it may come from a quotidian assemblage of photos taken of Camden Yards during the present campaign. From April to October, The Daily Camden includes a picture a day to keep the losing away. It reveals just how superior this magnificent ballpark is, even when compared to the athletes who play in it.

Conceived and commissioned by writer Rafael Alvarez, the photo collage is populated by a different contributor each day. Alvarez likens his writing process to the careful arrangement of pieces in a stained glass window. This project has a similar feel to it as the pictures captivate the imagination with each entry and provide a deeper glimpse into the faceted and wide ranging beauty of Oriole Park. The photos thus far -- one of the foul pole, another of a gate shadow, and at least two taken at sunrise -- evoke more power than the Orioles line-up.

Memorial Stadium was a hulking concrete-and-brick mastadon of a structure. It left splinters in your fingers and the taste of watery Coca-Cola in your mouth. It was raw in the cold air and more humid than a sauna in the summer. Pitching, defense, and the three-run jack ruled on 33rd street. The stadium blended into the neighborhood community and thundered and shook when the fans erupted. You went there to see some of the greatest players to ever play the game and you expected the Orioles to win.

Today, Oriole Park is as alluring a draw for me as the team itself. Inside the confines, you bask in the baseball history of the city with its Ruthian ghosts and Kaline sandlot ropes. We have yet to put a championship team on the field or at least one designed to excel with tall imposing pitchers and game-changing sluggers. These daily photos of Camden Yards further emphasize that this ball yard has consistently been more spectacular than the team that plays in it.
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