21 February 2018

The Orioles Shouldn't Tear Down - An Alternative View

Almost six weeks ago, Matt Kremnitzer wrote a piece entitled How Can the Orioles Win You Over? His thesis was that many fans aren't very happy with the Baltimore Orioles organization, primarily because the fans don't know or understand what the Orioles are planning to do in 2018. The offseason had been frustrating, so what can the Orioles do to change our outlook?

How do I feel about the Orioles? As I've written on this site, the Orioles are not the team I root for. I grew up in Chicago and have been a Cubs fan for close to fifty years. I do have a history with the Orioles. I'm a 1983 Georgetown graduate (Hoya Saxa!) and earned my Master's degree (1986) from College Park when the Orioles were DC's team. I've been living in the Hampton Roads, VA area, for 25 years; the Orioles and Nationals have shared local press and cable TV coverage. And, for the past 11 years, I have datacasted games for the Orioles AAA affiliate, the Norfolk Tides. Over the years, I've seen six games in Memorial Stadium and eleven in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I'll provide a brief summary of datacasting for those who may not know exactly what that is. Most of you probably know about GameDay, the program that provides on-line, near-real-time pitch-by-pitch updates of all major league games. GameDay is also available for all AAA and at least some AA minor league games as well. I sit in the press box in front of a computer and, using a special program, enter each pitch into a central server from which GameDay app users receive their updates. When a ball is put into play, I enter those results as well. Perhaps I'll write an article covering everything I do later this season; you might find what happens at a minor-league game interesting.

One of the side effects of my datacasting is that I have become less emotionally involved with my teams. I've become somewhat of a baseball professional (I do get paid for datacasting), although I do get to - have to - watch and pay attention to the games as games. But I can't allow myself to get emotionally involved. I have to see each game, each inning, each batter, each pitch as an independent event, not a part of a season with a pennant race - or I'll quickly find myself missing pitches, forgetting to advance base runners, and otherwise not performing my function well. I can be thrilled by David Washington hitting a game-tying home run, but I have to get right back to business with the next pitch.

And that feeling has crept into my fandom. I don't watch the Orioles or even the Cubs the same way I did before. On the occasions when I do get to watch or listen to the Orioles play, I want them to win - but I don't have a strong interest in whether or not they've won games I haven't watched or listen to. The game is over; the O's have won or lost; I'll be watching another game tomorrow, or next week, or in a couple of weeks, whenever.

So I'm happy that the Orioles haven't begun a total tear-down. I'm happy that they haven't traded Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones and Kevin Gausman. Because the Orioles are more likely to play better with those players than without them. Because I'll be more entertained watching the Orioles if those players are still around.

You may say, "Joe, you're a Cubs fan. Surely it was better for the Cubs, better for you as a Cubs fan, that the Cubs were terrible for three seasons and built the team that won the World Series." But, as I look back on it, I'm not sure that it was. Winning the World Series was great. But, at least for me, of all the moments of the 2016 season and post-season, the only one that wouldn't have been as good if it had occurred in a 2013 regular-season game was Game 6 of the NLCS, in which the Cubs won the pennant. And I'm sure there were many Cubs fans who suffered through years of games in which the team wasn't trying their hardest to win and never got to see the finished product.

You don't have to agree with me; in fact, I'm sure almost all of you won't. In fact, I'll even concede that the Orioles are more likely to win a championship eventually if they do trade away their best players and don't worry about wins and losses for a couple of seasons. I'm pointing out the other side.

If you do choose to comment on this article, I ask that you do not tell me that my way of looking at baseball is wrong, that the World Series is all that matters. It may not be your way of looking at baseball, but it's mine - and it's right for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I have been a Braves and Orioles fan for almost 50 years (since 1969, so you know how I feel about the Mets). Both had extremely extended periods of total incompetence (Orioles less so than the Braves). I would rather see my teams milk the last bit of competence out of their good rosters than tear down and rebuild periodically. I also think that rebuilding teams (e.g the Braves) should try to compete as soon as possible as opposed to waiting for the "right moment". The worst trend in the game is for none of the star players to spend their entire careers with one team. Playing for multiple teams has happened more frequently since the advent of free agency but there have always been some that stayed (not including players who strung out their careers for a couple of years with multiple teams). Doesn't seem like there are any staying any more.