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The Advance Scout: May 18-20 vs. The [Baltimore] Orioles

Baltimore Orioles in a Box
Category O's AL Rank
Runs Scored/Game 4.32 12th
Runs Allowed/Game 4.66 6th
Defensive Efficiency .698 T-8th
OBP .327 7th
SLG .390 11th
BA RISP .255 8th
Pythagorean Record 19-22 N/A

Record/Position/Streak: 18-23, 4th in AL East, L5 (4-6 in last 10)

Scheduled Starters: Friday, Steve Trachsel (1-3, 3.94) vs. Jason Simontacchi (1-1, 5.86); Saturday, Jeremy Guthrie (2-1, 3.34) vs. TBA; Sunday, Erik Bedard (3-2, 4.67) vs. TBA

BLOWrioles Blogs: Camden Chat; Birds in the Belfry; Roch Around the Clock (some guy from the Sun)

They're Feelin': Their team stinks so bad that they're reduced to discussing whether "BALTIMORE" will return to the road jerseys (or not)

A Brief History of the Baltimore Orioles in the Last Decade

1998: Coming off a division championship, what we really need are some really old veteran free agents at the end of their careers. Hey, Joe Carter, Doug Drabek, Ozzie Guillen -- come on down! Oh, and the manager. Hey, Ray Miller -- let the good times roll!

1999: So, old free agents about to retire didn't work? But Joe Carter was an RBI Machine -- what could go wrong? Aha. They weren't expensive enough! We need Will Clark, Delino DeShields, Mike Timlin, and . . . and . . . Albert Belle. Take that, Yankees! So what if our manager resents the money these guys are making???? (See this thread, last comment.) Well, I guess we do care. Let's fire Miller. And hey, let's fire our young GM, too. We'll say he offended Cal or something. Too late to get Gillick back, but there's always time for . . . Syd Thrift!

2000: This isn't going quite as well as planned. Mediocre veterans aren't working (though Lord only knows Jim Hunter loves B.J. and Bordy and Niner and the gang). Better acquire some mediocre prospects, but we'll market them as "Kids." Do we think our fans are this stupid? Who cares, we still have Cal.

2001: Crap, we're not going to have Cal anymore. Someone give Surhoff a call! In the meantine, David Segui looks pretty goo . . . oh. Nevermind.

2002: Ladies and gentlemen: We give you the Marty Cordova Era.

2003: Tell you the truth, the Marty Cordova Era sort of sucks. The Rick Helling and Omar Daal Era ain't so hot either. Let's try the youth thing again.

2004: Tell you the truth, the youth thing sort of sucks too. Let's buy big again! Hey, the veterans got us all the way up to third!

2005: Up, up, up . . . doooooooooooown. Maybe it was a bad sign last season when Sheinin was writing that our manager didn't know his left from his right.

2006: Did we even play in 2006?

2007: Middle relief is a problem. Let's go out and get some middle relievers. Oh, and offense too -- let's get Aubrey Huff and Jay Payton. Solid.

* * * *

I grew up a baseball fan, and I liked the Phillies as a kid. I don't know why, but I liked all the Philly teams as a kid. Maybe it's because I was born near Philadelphia, though that can't be it unless sports fandom is imprinted from birth, seeing as my family moved to Richmond when I was eight months old. I just remember Mike Schmidt was my favorite player since . . . well, since I gained the ability to remember. I also liked a couple others, guys like Dusty Baker and George Brett and Cal Ripken Jr.

From an early age, I was advised that I might as well pick an American League team too, seeing as the National and American were separate leagues and they'd never play each other unless it was the World Series, because that was just the way baseball tradition went. So I picked the Orioles, a natural fit, seeing as they were the closest big league team to me, and sure enough a year or so later the Phils and O's met in the World Series.

Anyway, I've been an O's fan since about the age of six, and I've witnessed this franchise ebb and flow ever since. As I said yesterday, my interest in the O's has died off in the last two or three years, or even more than that. I hung on between 1999-2004, to be honest, just because I figured the team couldn't possibly be run as incompetently as it seemed to be.

Then the Nationals arrived, and I was all for that. My interest in the Phillies -- a childhood thing -- had lapsed, and I had a National League and American League pair to root for again. Except the arrival of the Nats made me reevaluate where I was with the Orioles and their cluelessness and their dastardly owner. Though I've made good faith efforts since 2005, there's precious little juice anymore.

I'd like to root for the Orioles, I really would, but . . . what's the point? This franchise been churning spoiled butter for a decade, occasionally flipping around leadership (except for the throne room, of course) and instituting awkward regimes easily susceptible to mockery. Syd Thrift? (R.I.P.) Beatagan? Fluquette? It spent years and years perpetuating a silly little "regional team" myth, as if the way to beat the Yankees and the Red Sox was carve out its own ridiculous fiefdom, and when that strategy didn't work the only recourse was to isolate Lord Angelos's Mid-Atlantic kingdom from any alternatives or competition. I'm glad Mr. Angelos ultimately got what he wanted (television money), and in a sense he was correct when he predicted a DC team would take some of his fans, but that loss was his own doing. It was in my case, at least.

So here the Orioles stand, and in retrospect I offer the same observation I made at the time, back in 1998-99: the Orioles essentially operated like the dumber small market franchises did in the wake of the Strike of 1994-95. Those clubs spent the middle and later parts of the decade swapping around over-the-hill, moderately inexpensive, veteran "talent" at the expense of big splashes or -- more to the point -- player development, without the first damn design of how those pieces would fit into a contender other than that people would recognize their names. Just chart the later careers of guys like Vince Coleman, Terry Pendleton, and Hal Morris, among others, and there you go. The Orioles were essentially as dumb, except they had some assets that brought in some money at the time. We all know what those assets were. They've now dried up, or pretty much so, and Angelos secured an asset that is not conditional on the end of a player's career or winning and losing. Bully for you.

Some of those dumber small market teams eventually wised up, and that's why you see the Milwaukee Brewers busting out this season. Maybe the Orioles will see a similar revival in the near future, though I sympathize they're placed in a tough division (but nonetheless one that guarantees great home attendance for approximately a quarter of the season). But while I've heard the player development program has improved, it's improved from what exactly? From the state where a straight line between Cal and Brian Roberts was intersected essentially and only by Jeffrey Hammonds? They're producing more quality farmhands than that now? It's about damned time.

With some wisdom and a little luck, the Orioles are bound to experience some success eventually. They're probably not there yet, and I'm not even sure if they'll get there before the Nats do. That would be an interesting comparison. But when/if the O's again reach success on the field, will I return to rooting -- active rooting, as opposed to indifference? Probably so. Does that make me a bad fan? Probably so.

But, in my defense, I stuck around for a long time while those guys were giving us a bad team. Karma's a funky broad sometimes.

* * * *

Late Note: Bergmann to the DL, Mike Bacsik (Training) up from Columbus for tomorrow night's start, Dmitri back in the lineup tonight. For the record, the Nats will throw Simontacchi, Bacsik, and Micah Bowie for the Baltimore series. They'll be followed by Levale Speigner and our new new new new staff ace, Matt Chico. Wow.

Would you like to fraternize with the enemy? Is there even an enemy here, other than mutual agreement that Angelos is the enemy? Anyway, say hi to the fine folks at Camden Chat. You might remind them the team's not called the Expos anymore, but I'm sure someone would allege that was being disrespectful to the Expos. In the alternative, check out their pretty banner announcing a vote of no-confidence in Sam Perlozzo. How could they do such a thing? Don't they know Sammy went to The George Washington University? Sacrilege.

Scott (from Camden Chat) and I might have some sort of bet riding on this "Battle of the Beltway" (or "Battle of the Beltways") thing, but I'm not sure either of our hearts are in it. I don't think there will be a single Raider Fan to be found, so presumably all will return from the games safely and without bloodletting. Oh well.