Sunday, August 30, 2009

Before You Abandon the Orioles Altogether...

Football season is 2 weeks away. Here in Baltimore, most sports fans can't wait to turn the page from baseball to football, and most -- truth be told -- never paid much attention to the Orioles anyway.

There was a time in my youth when if the Orioles were playing, you'd pull up next to someone on the road and you could hear the game on their radio too. Now? It is not an uncommon occurrence to go to a bar or a restaurant that has TV sets featuring whatever game is on - and they don't even put on the Orioles game while they are playing. Not many people really care. And that's a shame.

But it is reality and it is what happens when you don't put up a winning season in a dozen years. At the beach this weekend with my family, I was talking to my nephew Jordan about this. Jordan is 11 and a good athlete and he likes all kinds of sports, including the Orioles. But since his birth in May 1998, the Orioles have, in a word, stunk. So how can you blame the kid for not being able to name the starting lineup? You can't.

There is, however and at long last, hope. Hope appeared on the mound today in the form of 6-5 lefthander Brian Matusz (Mat-iss, not Mah-tooz), who threw 7 strong innings and got the 3rd win of his MLB career.

Next year, the starting rotation will likely be Jeremy Guthrie and 4 very good second year players: Matusz, David Hernandez, Brad Bergesen, and Chris Tillman. Tillman looks like the real thing, and even Jason Berken has been very solid lately. So, shockingly, the Orioles finally do have what every organization covets - talented young arms in abundance. It has taken a very long time, but they are here.

Problems abound, of course, and anyone thinking playoffs next year for a team that's about to lose 25 or 30 games more than it will win this year should probably have his head examined.

You could say the same thing about someone who still pays close attention to a team that has been a dozen-year disappointment to a town that once lived and breathed with its every pitch and filled its still wonderful stadium. But if you love baseball like I do and you still care like I do, it's worth taking a peak at what's going on at Oriole Park over the final month of a season. The Ravens will soon take over everyone's interest, but the Orioles deserve a look.

No comments: