The Baltimore Orioles are limping their way to the golf courses having lost 13 of their last 15 games, and going 9-19 in September. The O's even went ahead and went 1-7 against New York and 0-3 against Boston in the final week and a half of the year. We'll now finish up with a three-game series at Tampa Bay, and if you can think of a worse place to finish a disaster of a year, I'd love to hear it.
I've said it a lot, but it's certainly been an interesting year in Orioles baseball to cover. Let's look back very briefly.
- Orioles start the season on fire, getting as much as 14 games over .500 and holding the AL East lead for the better part of the first half.
- Brian Roberts is arguably the MVP of the American League in the first half of the season.
- Miguel Tejada wins the All-Star game MVP award.
- Rafael Palmeiro's drive for 3,000 hits is completed in Seattle just after the All-Star break.
- Erik Bedard? Erik freaking Bedard!
- Bedard got hurt.
- Palmeiro tested positive for steroids, igniting a tornado-like storm of garbage around a team that was falling apart anyway. He was then told to go home after accusing Miguel Tejada of giving him steroids.
- Tejada...well, Miggy's Miggy.
- Roberts hit .270/.351/.419 in the second half - not bad, but that followed a .345/.416/.591 first half. He also tanked badly in July and August before recovering in September, then his season was ended early when Bubba Crosby railroaded him.
- The Orioles are 17 games under .500.
Sidney Ponson continued being Sidney Ponson, except he was actually worse. He's now sitting at home.
Basically, at some point, almost every key member of this team was injured. The exceptions were Tejada and Bruce Chen, and I guess Roberts' injury happened once it didn't matter anymore.
The good to take out of this? Bruce Chen had a nice season and will, fittingly I think, get to take the ball for the O's season closer on Sunday. Brian Roberts is a bona fide major leaguer if not a superstar or even a star. Miguel Tejada is still good. Chris Ray could be closing as soon as next season if BJ Ryan doesn't come back (and why would he?). Daniel Cabrera and Bedard showed marked improvement. BJ Surhoff will probably retire.
This offseason should be an interesting one for us, too. Who will be the manager? Will Flanagan and/or Beattie return? Are the Orioles going to do more than "patch up" holes with mediocre veterans? WILL THEY SIGN A DECENT DAMN STARTING PITCHER ALREADY?
The Orioles are 71-88. Lose two to Tampa, and it's another 90-loss season. Even if they sweep, they still lost 88 games again. If they do lose 90, however, it will mark the fourth time in five years the Orioles have done that. The last time that happened was when the franchise lost 90-plus games every year from 1947 to 1955, and they were only in Baltimore in '54 and '55.
It's the eighth straight losing season for the O's, the third-longest streak in franchise history.
Browns, thirteen seasons (1930-1942)
Browns/Orioles, eleven seasons (1946-1953, 1954-1956)
Orioles, eight seasons (1998-2005)
We're witnessing a historically futile time in the history of the Baltimore Orioles. As far as just the Baltimore Orioles part of the history goes, this is the worst run ever.
Some of you guys have been debating what's really wrong with the Orioles lately. Angelos? Flanagan and Beattie? The managers? The coaches? The scouting? The players?
The answer is all of the above. Just about everything is wrong with the Baltimore Orioles. There are bright spots, but the Royals had Mike Sweeney and Carlos Beltran on the same team for years and no one would have argued that the Royals were doing anything right. The Orioles are one of the worst franchises in Major League Baseball. I say this not with hate but with regret.
Something has got to change. In fact, a lot has to change, and it would start, in my opinion, with hiring a general manager that has some ideas, a Beane or Epstein type. They are basically of the same mindset, but Theo has more money to play with. If you don't think Theo Epstein could find a way to build a decent team on as much money as the Orioles spend on players, think again. And Billy Beane would have a field day with the Orioles' money.
Those guys don't just fall off of trees or anything, but they're not impossible to find either. You just might have to look a little harder than asking an old lefty and the guy whose name was in the circle you hit on the ex-GM dartboard to run the team. And you also might have to look harder than just calling Brian Cashman.
Three more games to go. The times that this season was enjoyable to watch seem like eons ago at this point. I'll miss Orioles baseball, as I always do, but I'm glad this is ending.
Let's go, O's.