No, I’m not worked up about the Orioles losing 14 games (or whatever it is by the time you read this) in a row.
No, I don’t think this is a particularly embarrassing moment in the history of the franchise.
No, I don’t think manager Brandon Hyde should be fired.
And no, I don’t think I needed that last jalapeno cheddar sausage this weekend. Or probably the one before that, either.
Look, I get it. I honestly understand. Baseball is being played in Baltimore this season and because the games are being played, we want to watch them and analyze them and see signs of progress. We were excited about a season opening sweep of the Red Sox. We were thrilled by John Means’ dazzling no-hitter against the Mariners. We wanted to believe there might be other celebratory moments to be enjoyed even if we largely understood that more pain than pleasure was to be had for the season as a whole.
So with things going, well, decidedly worse than that, we can’t help but be frustrated. Or at least some of us can’t.
A number of Orioles fans find themselves flummoxed by my completely dismissive response to the team’s many indignities, the most recent of which being an unfathomable “tying run on third base with no outs and you somehow manage to leave him there” 10th inning against the Twins May 31. That’s the type of thing that makes fans say, “Look, we knew it was going to be bad, but it’s inexcusable that it would be this bad. Something has to change!”
To which I say, “Why, exactly?”
Look, we all know this is bad. We all know just how awful things have been. We know how non-competitive the Orioles have been for some stretches and how many lapses or fundamental miscues they’ve suffered through during the course of this mess. We know that unless that month is March, there should never be a calendar month in which a team wins just five baseball games. Five!
And yet, no, I’m not even slightly moved by any of this. This is the cost of doing this type of business. This isn’t “part of the plan,” this isn’t even the plan yet! And that’s the most important part of the conversation. I assure you, I’m plenty disappointed by the performance of reliever Tanner Scott, whose flame-throwing made us believe he could prove to be a quality major-league bullpen arm. (And he still might be!) I’m bummed that Ryan Mountcastle hasn’t been able to follow up a solid 2020 debut so far.
But that’s about the extent of the list of “guys who I genuinely believed could be part of the long-term solution who have let me down in 2020.”
Don’t get me wrong, it would be neat for some of the other young players on the Orioles’ roster this season to completely change their narrative and go from “guy who’s on the roster because there aren’t enough real players” to “guy who could genuinely be a centerpiece for the next 5-8 years.” Cedric Mullins flirted with such an ascent, but his .236 average during his last 15 games suggests at least some regression to the mean.
The point is that this rebuild was not going to be made or broken by the Dean Kremers or DJ Stewarts of the world. And what’s happening in the minor leagues IS more significant to the actual plan than what’s happening at the major-league level. That’s not lip service. Adley Rutschman and D.L. Hall and Grayson Rodriguez are not guaranteed to become future superstars based on great starts at Double-A (or High-A) ball in 2021. But this is what you want to see them doing at those levels if they’re going to become superstars.
And THAT’S “the plan.”
The players in Baltimore don’t face the same expectations. Their responsibility is to guide the team through the completion of 162 games and not a whole lot more. Their responsibility is to get us one season closer to what we’re hoping this can become.
Perhaps after this season the Orioles should sit down and discuss whether this current major-league staff is the group they believe best suited for guiding the young careers of that core of players, as we can reasonably expect that group to start arriving early in 2022 (if none make a cameo before then). But firing a manager now? Maybe if the streak breaks the major league record (26) I could semi-understand the concept of “it’s just too toxic for him to continue,” but short of that, what well can be poisoned here? Freddy Galvis isn’t really an Oriole! He’s a guy wearing an Orioles uniform until they find out who can handle the job long term! Why would we possibly be concerned about the impact a manager has on him?
I’m aware this isn’t fun. But the weather will get better. The majority of us will not be required to watch every inning of every game. Minor league parks capacity restrictions have or will be lifted. There are ways to still enjoy baseball.
But the actual
wins and losses just aren’t worth getting this worked up about.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox