Oh, Amber

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You know, I like Amber Theoharis. I really do. She's got a bubbly personality, seems to actually like sports, and adds some much-needed upbeat personality to O's broadcasts, contrasting greatly with the bitter-sounding and even snotty Gary Thorne, arrogant Jim Palmer, bumpkin Rick Dempsey and the downright bizarre-sounding Buck Martinez.

While these guys are forced to be honest about how lame the Orioles are, Amber is allowed to have F-bombs launched at her by douchey Under Armour frat boys, and humor us with amusing crowd stories and the like. She gets a pass on doing much that has substance to it. It's not that she can't handle it, perhaps, just that, well, it's the role. She's the "sideline reporter," and most days in baseball, there's not much to report from the sideline. It's not like she's in the dugout.

She also pens a column over at PressBox, titled "The Broad Side." First off, that's a fantastic, wonderful name for her articles. But her most recent one caught my attention because it made me want to eat glass.

Trembley can’t predict what will happen -- not now, not in September. However, one thing you can bet all your Cadbury Eggs on is the O’s lineup will change. There will be trades, injuries and opportunities for younger players over the next six months. It will be a relatively short transformation considering the metamorphosis Easter has undergone over the past 2,000 years.

Do you think Jesus was visited by a large bunny bearing chocolate on that fateful day years ago, or Mary Magdalene went in search of colorful eggs shortly before visiting Christ’s tomb? No, and nobody in Jesus’ time would have predicted those elements would work their way into the culture of Easter. But they did, and it works. So will the adjustments made to the Orioles' roster over the next six months.

This is one of the most amazing things I've ever read -- really let it sink into the ol' dome.

A few weeks ago, Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar appeared on my radio talk show, “The A-List with Amber Theoharis” on WHFS 105.7. The question was asked, “How is it going down there in Fort Lauderdale?”

“Well, we’re just getting ready to win the 2008 World Series here,” Millar responded. After the shock subsided, I thought, “Amen.”

Why not? If the 2007 Colorado Rockies can win the National League Championship Series, then why can’t the 2008 Orioles catch the same wave?

Nobody is planning for the Orioles to make the playoffs in 2008, let alone win the World Series, except for those 25 Orioles and their manager/coaches. They have to blindly believe. They can’t get bogged down in thought, or they might as well not show up.

It's this sort of insane optimism that I just have no patience for. She does realize Millar was being particularly funny, right? Kevbo and all the rest can yammer on with "Ya gotta believe" B.S., but the fact is nobody believes this team is going to win anything. They want to go out there and not be embarrassed, and the REAL hope for the 2008 Orioles is we'll see some bright spots with future that won't just start playing dead in July.

The 2007 Rockies were loaded with legitimate talent, and that was no secret. They were a sexy sleeper pick, not a team expected by many to be the worst in baseball.

If any of them gave an honest answer, not a single one of those 25 Orioles and their managers/coaches will tell you that they're planning to make the playoffs in 2008, let alone win the World Series.

 

Sometimes people have to choose to believe in something even when rationality tells them it’s not possible. Note the word “choose.” It is a choice to ignore common sense and side with emotion. Blind faith is a remarkable phenomenon, but it gives people purpose. And for the Orioles, it offers a reason to show up and play hard every day.

If the Orioles do just that, and luck becomes a factor, just imagine.

What if Millar, Ramon Hernandez, Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott all hit 25 home runs? What if Melvin Mora, Adam Jones and Brian Roberts hit 15-20 dingers? What if Guthrie wins 15 games, and Adam Loewen and Daniel Cabrera win more than 10? What if George Sherrill proves to be the shutdown closer the Orioles have missed since B.J. Ryan left for free agency?

These benchmarks are not farfetched. Any baseball scout will tell you, they are all very realistic numbers for these respective players.

This is the part that really kills me.

The 25-Homer Club includes the following players:

 

  1. Kevin Millar, who is 36 years old, and hasn't hit 25 home runs in a season since 2003. That is also the only time he has ever done so.
  2. Ramon Hernandez, who has never hit 25 home runs in a season.
  3. Nick Markakis, who is a perfectly reasonable bet.
  4. Aubrey Huff, who hasn't hit 25 home runs in a season since 2004, the last year of his three-year peak.
  5. Luke Scott, another reasonable bet.

The 15-20 Dinger Club features:

 

  1. Melvin Mora, 36 years old and rapidly losing his power.
  2. Adam Jones, who has a far better shot at 25 than Millar, Ramon or Huff.
  3. Brian Roberts, who needed a massive, unbelievable power surge over one month, basically, to achieve 18 home runs in 2005. That was his only 15-homer year.

Also, Mora has been hitting 15 homers a year, which hasn't lifted him above league-average. Jones could hit 15 homers by hacking his way through a rough rookie season. Plenty of guys hit 15 homers.

The 25-home run club is SO dubious because nobody on the Orioles hit 25 homers last year, but now I'm supposed to believe in a five-man crew doing just that? That's not "faith" -- it's lunacy.

In short, if you presented this scenario to "any baseball scout," they'd not only not tell you that it's realistic, they'd probably sigh in disgust or laugh in your face.

I'm not going to get into pitchers winning games. Nobody on this team is winning 15.

Look, I know hope springs eternal and all that other jive, and if you want to believe in that, then good for you. But I can't do it. Not this year. This year is a very clear issue. We're not winning anything. This year has nothing to do with the win-loss record of the Baltimore Orioles, and everything to do with the direction and future that comes out of learning from the losing and getting the experience on the major league level.

I just can't get into any of this half-baked optimism. When you're resorting to, "Well, what if Kevin Millar hits 25 homers, huh?!" then you've gone off the deep end, and you're only setting yourself up for heartbreak. Why would you do that to yourself?

This isn't about not believing, really, so much as it's about being sane.

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