Monday, October 02, 2006

Another regular season in baseball has come to a close, and yet again, my team, the Baltimore Orioles came nowhere close to contention. The problem with losing so many years in a row, as the Orioles have, you start to expect it. And when as a fan, you don't expect the team to win, it breeds apathy, which is probably the worst feeling in any sort of relationship, in this case, the fan-team relationship. And it really is a relationship - the team continually gives you no reason to come back, and the relationship disintegrates. It's no wonder no one shows up to Camden Yards anymore. Not even that beautiful stadium is that much of a lure anymore. I used to get really excited to watch the Orioles play, and I would follow intently. Now, I don't see much of a point. Even if they win a game or two, what does it really matter....the organization as a whole is not putting a product on the field that's anywhere close to comparable to the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, etc, etc.

If you want to play devil's advocate, you could say there's always reason for hope - the Tigers from this year, the White Sox from last year, the Marlins that won the World Series in 2003. But in each of those situations, they had managers that helped to change the losing culutre, talented players on their way up, not down, and a passion that they played the game with. I don't see any of that with the Orioles. It might be too early to judge manager Sam Perlozzo, but it sure doesn't seem like there's any change in the clubhouse culture to me. The fact is they wound up in their familiar fourth place finish yet again, so I'm going to have to assume that not much has changed. And the Orioles don't have enough of those players that are in their primes or on the way to reaching their primes. They have a few nice young players, but every time you think of younger players like Nick Markakis or Chris Ray, who seem like they'll be pretty good, you remember that the team also has players like Kevin Millar and Melvin Mora, who are definitely on the downturn of their careers.

In my opinion, the Orioles need to seriously overhaul the roster, because the way the team is composed now, they'll forever be in limbo, always thinking they have a chance, but in reality they don't because the roster is a mismatched collection of parts. They need to gut the roster, start fresh, keep players like Markakis, Ray, and Erik Bedard, and not kid themselves that they're going to win right away. They need to be willing to let young players develop and flourish - and if you have the right players, the rebuilding process doesn't have to take that long. Just look at the Marlins from this year. That's a team that everyone thought would be the worst team in the National League to start the year, and now, it's very reasonable to think they could be a playoff team next season.

Unfortunately, Peter Angelos, the owner, will never do that because his ego gets in the way, and he thinks he knows how to construct the team better than anyone else. It's not just your team, Peter. We the fans are paying the money for the tickets, and if you keep putting the same old unacceptable product on the field, the fans won't come back, and they haven't been coming for a while now.

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