I was reading the Washington Post baseball chat this afternoon, and columnist Dave Shenin gave us perhaps a few sobering realities concerning the Baltimore Orioles, despite their amazing start.
Silver Spring, Md.: Dave, what on Earth is going on up I-95?! As one of those misguided lifelong O's fan, I'm happy and all, since my husband kept telling me I was looking at an 120-loss season (and since he's a Tigers fan, that number holds great importance in our house), but I fear this is all a dream and its all going to end VERY badly. Is the season salvageable? As in, not finishing last? Not being the laughing stock of MLB? PLEASE?
Dave Sheinin: It's great that the Orioles are playing so well, but it happens every year, folks. A good team has a terrible start, and everyone wants to write them off, while a bad team has a great start, and everyone wants to print playoff tickets. You sound as if your expectations are reasonable -- you're asking me if the Orioles can avoid last place (yes, but unlikely), as opposed to asking whether they can be a contender (no way). Keep in mind, the Orioles are still probably going to trade Brian Roberts, and it is possible they will also deal away Aubrey Huff, George Sherrill and/or others this summer -- because the goal here is not to hang around the fringes of contention into June, but rather to build a strong foundation from the ground up. A fast start is not going to change that.
A few more questions asked by some chatters:
Taneytown, Md.: Break up the Orioles! Will Markakis have a break-out season this year?
Dave Sheinin: Breakout season? I'd say his 2007 numbers (.300-23-112, with an OPS of .847) at the age of 23 constitutes a breakout season.
Judiciary Square: Dave, I saw the attendance for one of the O's/M's games was a bit over 10,000. Since this is tickets sold, I assume their season ticket base is, at best, barely 10K. How big a falloff is that from past years, and where does is stand relative to other MLB teams?
Dave Sheinin: The Orioles' attendance has declined in nearly every season since 1997 (3.71 million), bottoming out in 2006 at 2.15 million. They haven't released season-ticket data, but your logic is correct. I can tell you this: as someone who covered the O's when they were still drawing 45,000/game, it is shocking to me to see Camden Yards so empty. But it's a useful lesson in the one basic truth about sports and attendance: if you put a good product on the field, people will show up.
I cannot disagree with Shenin's thoughts, as they will probably turn out to be correct; however, stranger things have happened.
The Matchups today:
* Game One: Steve Trachsel (1-0) vs. Kevin Millwood (0-2)
* Game Two: Adam Loewen vs. Kason Gabbard
The Orioles once again need to get their bats going in both games, as we know what we getting with Trachsel & I'm not quite sold on Loewen yet.
Follow the thread on Oriole Magic...