Joe Reisel's Archives
I am fortunate enough to be starting my twelfth season as a datacaster for the Norfolk Tides. I have also been fortunate enough to work with a congenial and pleasant group of co-workers. The official scorers, with whom I work closely, have been the same for all the previous eleven seasons. I have worked with the same media relations director for ten of the eleven seasons; he took a year off to try to make some real money and decided he'd rather be happy than rich. Although I don't work with them as closely, the PA announcer, scoreboard operators, and other behind-the-scenes staff have been there most of the eleven years as well. We have a history with the Tides, and every year we hope we'll get to see entertaining and interesting players.
Just before the start of the major-league season, the Tides hosted the parent Orioles in an exhibition game and I provided Major League Baseball Advanced Media with the datacast. This was my first look at the 2017 Tides. When we looked at the Tides' lineup for the exhibition game, we were pleased to see Chance Sisco, a young player with a promising future. And it was nice to see Paul Janish; even though he's not a young player, it's nice to see a shortstop who can make all the routine plays and even a few not-so-routine plays. David Washington was, at least, a fresh face, a minor-league free agent who hadn't spent several years in the International League.
On the other hand, we were dismayed to see Robert Andino and Chris Dickerson in the lineup. I have nothing personal against Andino and Dickerson and they are probably among the top two thousand baseball players in the world. But we've seen a lot of them when they were through Norfolk before and we weren't excited to see them again. I wondered if the Orioles had tried to find other similar blasts from the past like Blake Davis or Chris Robinson; at least they hadn't brought back Ryan Drese.
On the whole, then, the 2017 Norfolk Tides didn't look to be particularly interesting for us long-time Tides followers. But every year there's a new employee who joins us long-time Tides followers in the press box. That's the media relations intern, who does grunt work for the Tides while learning the minor-league baseball business and building a resume. The interns provide an entirely different viewpoint; they are much less focused on the minor leagues than we are and haven't been jaded by four .500 seasons out of the last eleven.
And, during our observations about how uninspiring the 2017 Tides seemed to be, this year's intern said that he was excited to see Pedro Alvarez. After all, he's a former all-star and National League home run champ. He's only 30 years old. He's fighting his way back to the major leagues. Surely this is a player worth seeing.
And, of course, he's right, given that he hasn't seen 478 Norfolk Tides games in the past eleven years. But part of the fun in watching minor league baseball is seeing something new, like young players potentially destined for glory and other players to whom we haven't been overexposed. We've seen Pedro Alvarez on television many times - I've even seen him live. We know the Pedro Alvarez story, and we've heard the same story many more times, about different players. Left-handed hitting home run hitter, doesn't hit for a high batting average, can't play defense - we know what to expect. And that's why I'm not excited about the specifics of the 2017 Norfolk Tides - I have expectations about too many players.
And, this may illustrate why many fans are frustrated by the Orioles. The 2017 Orioles are just like every Orioles team of the past few seasons - Manny Machado will be great, the rest of the lineup will hit a lot of home runs and play outstanding infield defense; the starting pitching will be suspect and the bullpen outstanding. At best, that will get them into the postseason but not really be favored to advance. While we want to be (pleasantly) surprised and see something new and different, perhaps we should enjoy what we have, rather than want what we aren't going to get.