An evil wind has blown into Orioleland.
25 years removed from their last championship I'm seeing signs that there are O's fans who have forgotten or never knew how the Orioles won so much in the past and are enchanted by that awful product of the National League - "Small Ball".
Before I bitch about this, I want everyone to click on this link and listen to what Earl Weaver thinks about small ball. I know everybody has heard this before, but listen to what he actually says
"Get them big cocksuckers that can hit the fucking ball out of the ball park the and you can't make any goddamn mistake." Truer words were never spoken.
Baseball is a pretty simple game compared to football or basketball. You get guys on base, knock them in, and try to prevent the other team from doing the same. It's been the way it's been since 1920, but a significant part of the baseball world is in total denial about it. You ever wonder why the Yankees won so many World Series? Ever wonder why the National League isn't so good at the whole World Series thing? That's pretty much why. The rules of baseball allow lots of other ways to try and score runs, but there isn't a whole lot of evidence those other ways win many games on a consistent basis.
Earl Weaver understood how baseball offenses work probably better than any manager in history. He knew that wasting time worrying about the "little things" was pointless because they literally were little things and don't contribute very much to winning games. Look at the really successful teams, they usually were near the top in runs scored and runs allowed and they usually scored runs by getting on base and hitting for power. There are exceptions, but those exceptions tend to be confined to specific eras and rarely repeat. The Yankees won World Series like clockwork. The 2003 Marlins finished 4 games above 500 the next year.
Currently, the American League East has three teams that are in the top six in both runs scored and home runs. The idea that the Orioles will compete with them with single-run strategies is absurd. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Devil Rays have the ability to completely change a game with one swing of the bat. Dave Trembley is hoping to squeak out victories with a high-risk, low-return offense. If he worked on Wall Street he'd be out of a job in a week.
I know a lot of apologists for him say things like "well, the O's don't have any big hitters, we need to score runs another way." I don't think that holds a lot of water. Those teams that are successful with "small ball" have high percentage base stealers and guys who can bunt their way on base. The Orioles don't have that. They score so infrequently that they should be adopting a high-percentage, low-risk strategy and hope for the best. By giving away outs they're decreasing their already slim chances of scoring a run.
For reasons that elude me, a lot of people think small ball is "old school" and "the right way to play the game". It isn't. The right way to play the game is whatever way wins and in the American League East small ball doesn't. Old school for the Orioles is what Earl Weaver is talking about in that clip above. It's what Moneyball is all about. I'd like to see the Orioles to return to that.