Friday, April 9, 2010

Countdown to Relevance: 80 O's Notch First Win and the Home Opener

So the O's were able to get their first win of the season last night. It's great they avoided being swept and that they are managing to keep games close. That bodes well for the season. There are a few areas that really need improvement though. First, let me admit that I did not watch all of last night's game, only the 9th inning. But I can tell you one thing from the games I've watched. This closer, Gonzalez, needs to step up and step up fast. Some fans, including me last night, are calling for his head. I was nicely reminded that it was only the third game of the season so maybe I should give him a little more time before trying to rush the field and remove him.

Maybe I should give him time. But as an O's fan, it's especially hard to be patient with erratic pitchers. I'm incredibly optimistic about the Orioles, but years of sloppy relief pitching and terrible bullpens have worn my patience thin. Giving a young star, like Wieters, time to mature was pretty easy. He slumped when he first got to the majors, but not for long and you could see the talent was there. I'm having a hard time seeing that talent in Gonzalez, and trust me I'm looking. I cling to even a glimmer of talent with the hope it will grow into something great. Now, I trust Andy McPhail to make good selections and find the right talent for the team. But everyone misses sometimes, right? I'm hoping I'm wrong and Gonzalez settles down and becomes a great closer, but right now his erratic throwing makes that hard to believe. On the other hand, you can't say he isn't exciting to watch. I've been on the edge of my seat both times I've seen him play.
The other major problem has been hitting with runners on base and in scoring position. The O's are getting the hits but not capitalizing on them. But with consistent hitting, I think this will improve as the season goes on. I'm not too worried about this only three games in. Ask me about it again in June. The Orioles have kept all the games close so far. And if they can improve here, the future of this team will be very bright.

Now onto a happier topic, the Home Opener. Yes, it's not technically Opening Day, but it still deserves to be celebrated as such. The beginning of baseball season in Baltimore is a glorious time. Everyone is excited for the game and the team. Many people still believe that this year, it will be better. The hope and enthusiasm is palpable. This is traditionally a holiday in Baltimore. Sadly, I have to work in the morning but will be attending the game. Bergesen will be returning to the mound and after a promising start last season before his injury, I'm excited to see what he can do. Hopefully the offense will light it up and hit in the clutch we won't have to rely on our closer.
Countdown to Relevence: 80 wins, 159 games remaining

Monday, April 5, 2010

Countdown to Relevance

Welcome back to baseball season. The days leading up to Opening Day are some of the best for rebuilding teams. For a few days we can truly believe we will contend in our division, that great things will be in store this year. This is a time of hope. Tomorrow will be a time for reality to start again. But this year, that hope seems less starry eyed and a little more realistic. I'm not saying that the O's will be contenders this year, not by any means. I'm hoping for relevance. Therefore, I'm starting a Countdown to Relevance. A non-losing season would make the O's relevant again. Right now the team is 81 wins away from that relevance.

Last year the O's got off to a fast start, followed by a terrible decline which led to a pitiful end to the season. This year the Orioles look well equipped to become relevant again. Youngsters like Wieters, Markakis, Bergesen, Matusz and Jones make this a team with some up and coming stars. Yes, the AL East is stacked as always.

This countdown will try to focus on the positive, the things the Orioles are doing right, the great moments, the great plays, the games they win and the players who play their hearts out to make the game worth watching. This is a countdown devoted to giving hope to Orioles fans. Yes, I'm sure it will be tough at times, but I'm willing to take on this challenge. I'm hoping this is not as futile as my countdown last season. Yes, I did abandon it due to shear desperation. Whatever, I have a good feeling about this season. You should too.

Countdown to Relevance: 81 wins, 162 games remaining