Ere long, we arrive at the terrifying crossroads where our springtime road of infinite potential intersects with harsh and cruel reality. Like some weird intersection in Washington, DC where you can come up to a traffic light and go seven different directions, the road now forks. Will it be another year of bleak desolation, where the scorching summer sun kills our dreams and then bleaches their bones? Or will we stumble wild-eyed into September relevance? Most likely the answer is somewhere between those two extremes, seeking solace in a temporary comfort of mediocrity, which I think we can all agree would beat the hell out of another near-100 loss season.
This season, like the last, opens in Tampa Bay against the Rays. I ask you, where is the justice in giving two straight Opening Day games at home to a clownish, carpeted dome where they have to give away 20,000 tickets to fill it even when the team has clinched a playoff spot? Meanwhile, Oriole Park at Camden Yards sits dormant on Opening Day for the second straight year. I'm taking the slight from MLB personally, because I have the Baltimore inferiority complex, so that's what I do.
The Rays team that steps onto the turf against the Orioles today will have a different look than it has in years past: Carl Crawford is gone to an expensive contract in Boston, and now they have a lineup featuring Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. Uh, Rays, let me give you a little tip: a lineup of "Cowboy Up" castoffs isn't going to get you anywhere. We tried that one. Well, they do still have Evan Longoria, and their Opening Day starter is David Price, who threw 208.2 innings last season and had a 2.72 ERA. I asked myself when was the last time an Orioles starter threw 200+ innings and had an ERA under 3, and the answer to that question is Mike Mussina: 241 IP and a 2.54 ERA in 1992.
It's not likely we'll get that kind of season out of our own Opening Day starter, Jeremy Guthrie, but a rotation full of 2010 Jeremy Guthries (209.1 IP, 3.83 ERA) is something that every team in MLB would take. Okay, fine, probably not the Phillies. Everyone else, though, for sure. And as for our hitters... well, what else is there to say at this point? Many Bothans died to bring us these sluggers, and today we start finding out if they are worth the price. Derrek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds, new JJ: welcome to Birdland. Everybody else: don't suck. Play ball!
By the time you read this, I will be en route to Pickles Pub to get my drink on. So will Stacey, and so will duck, so uh... behave. And go O's!