Last year around this time, the Orioles were playing the Rays and it seemed like there was a vocal minority on this site who were rooting for the Rays because it would mean the Rays would keep the Red Sox out of the postseason, and also that the Orioles would get a better draft pick. We are at that point again. The surging Rays are clawing back up to the level of the wild card, on which Boston, losers of five straight, have lost a stranglehold. The Rays are still 3.5 games back of the wild card.
Well, the draft pick thing worked out alright since the O's got Dylan Bundy, and no one should worry about next year's draft because a lot of the people who would know these things are talking about how next year's will be a weak draft. So I don't even want to hear it. And you know what? The Rays don't need you or me to root for them to get the wild card. They're going to do it or they won't, and if they miss the playoffs and think, "Man, we shouldn't have lost so many games to the Orioles," I'm not going to shed any tears. This is the team that had to give away 20,000 tickets just to have a sell-out one day after clinching a playoff spot. I don't want to hear it about the Rays.
Only, as an Orioles fan, what am I supposed to root for at this point? Am I supposed to get excited about Matt Angle and Kyle Hudson starting, like one of these guys is going to go on a tear and suddenly it'll be like, "Hooray! We found our fourth outfielder for next season!" Or even worse, our starting left fielder? Should I root for Chris Davis to hit 20 bombs in the last 15 games so that we can pretend he's some kind of long-term solution at third base, or first base? I can appreciate the temptation to root for none of these players to do well because the reality is that we need the new incoming front office regime to realize that the Orioles have no long-term above-average players at their position except for maybe Matt Wieters at catcher. And when I'm depressed about the Orioles, like right now, I remember that Wieters is improving every year, which means he'll be the player we always wanted him to be in something like 2015, just in time for him to become a free agent.
Here's one player whose success we can get excited about: Zach Britton. He's starting tonight. Coming into the AL East as a rookie, battling shoulder inflammation for several starts before hitting the DL, and he's ended up throwing 133 big league innings with a 4.33 ERA. That's not great, but it's better than any of his other young gun compatriots can say. Have at them, Zach. Their team sucks a whole lot less than ours, but you suck a whole lot less than the rest of the team, so it's more or less even.
|Rays (J. Niemann - R) @ Orioles (Z. Britton - L)|