Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Orioles: Definitely A Lesser Team

(and a lesser city!)

One of the things that's frustrated me this season was how the team's relentless message of '08 or bust combined with the craptastic start have killed much of the passion. I've written many times before -- you're probably sick of hearing it -- about how I don't get into the ebb and flow of the wins and losses. I watch mostly as a moderately dispassionate observer. I'll smile when they do well, but when they lose, I don't really react, cause that's what we're supposed to do. (That's Article III of "The PLAN!")

Tonight was a little different. I got into it.

I don't know if it's my hatred with Angelos and the Orioles that did it, or if it's the fact that this crappy team (Any team with Micah Bowie, Levale Speigner and Jason Simontacchi is crappy, REGARDLESS of performance) is actually doing well. It's a helluva lot easier to root for a .500ish team than the dog we saw early on in the season.

During my rants in the offseason, that's all I wanted. I didn't expect them to back up the truck to sign Soriano -- funny how all the people crowing about how terrible he was after one month of play aren't saying anything now that he's upped his stats and is having a season as good as last year's. But I did want them to throw a little money, just to make the team .500ish.

Sure, there's no guarantee that they'd do well with extra players (especially because one of the guys I wanted them to target looks like he's on the verge of TJ surgery). But it would've given them the illusion of competitiveness.

As it is, only now, after 3-4 weeks of sustained solid play, am I starting to come around.

Yes, that's probably more a problem with me than the team, but if there wasn't so much buzz about how shitty this team was going to be in the offseason how many other fans would be interested in watching what is a hard-working if imperfect team? (I'll note, too, that some of those expectations of lousy play were coming from the team itself, and that it's not just a media creation as some idjuts seem to always whine.)

On that matter, at least, it seems like the team has shot themselves in the foot a bit.

But for tonight, it was nice to see Lopez sneak that ball down the line, scoring three, after both teams had spent the night trading seeing-eye singles and bloops and bleeders. It was an ugly game. But it was a fun game. It would've stunk if we had lost, but I'm happier that we won. And I'm happier that we won tonight, than I was when we won two weeks ago. That's progress.


  • I can't agree more. It's truly amazing how 3 weeks I expected us to lose, and a win was great. Now I expect us to be competitive, and enjoy the "team" wins.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/14/2007 12:28 AM  

  • I went to the game tonight. Yes, yes, i know, i shouldn't be giving that money grubbing pig of an owner 2 cents of my money. But i went, and since we won, i enjoyed it. A decent handful of Nats fans were there too, it was nice to see. Anyway, on our way home after midnight, we drove over the Anacostia Bridge right past the new stadium. It's looking great, folks. It's going to be a nice looking park, espcially on the water, if you call what's in the Anacostia "water". ;) I was surprised at how close the side of the stadium comes to the freeway. Reaching out of your car window, it was like you could almost touch it.

    I'm don't know what Manny preaches to these guys. But whatever it is, it's working. He's doing a great job for a first year MLB manager. Or any manager, for that reason.

    By Anonymous NatsVA, at 6/14/2007 1:14 AM  

  • Enjoy it while you can department.

    On the postgame TV show last night, Don Baylor noted that what the Nats are now doing with these satisfying wins is unsustainable because Washington has no starting pitching that can go beyond the fifth or sixth inning. Consequently, too much strain is put on the bullpen, and the strain will begin to show up, most likely after the all-star break.

    This is one of the few franchises which figures you can go through a season with zero proven starters. Or maybe it's that the franchise owners didn't care what kind of product they put on the field in 2007, assuming that their promises of a brighter tomorrow and a shiny new stadium will be all it takes to bring back the fans in 2008 and beyond.

    "The Plan" will make a very interesting case study for business school students as it unwinds before us.

    By Anonymous JohnR (VA), at 6/14/2007 7:37 AM  

  • Really, what's the benefit in shelling out a decent amount of money to be a .500 team? That's not going to get you into the playoffs (unless you're in a gross NL West). Where's the return on that?

    I'd much rather suck it up and be a 65 win team that's getting it's house in order to make a run down the road. Seems to have worked out okay for the Tigers.

    By Blogger Randall, at 6/14/2007 8:09 AM  

  • My passion for the Nats has not diminished at all, despite the bad start. There are several reasons:

    1.) "So happy happy to have a team." That being said, I still expect the franchise to be accountable -- love is not blind here, though it isn't 20-20 either. Does that even make sense? When I stood in line for a few innings on Opening Day, I wasn't going "tra la la la, isn't it great I have a team now and I can miss a 1/3 of the game standing in line?"

    2.) Being able to watch them on TV after two years of Angelo$ imposed darkness is a big part of the reason I have stayed into them.

    3.) When you have no expectations, anything that exceeds them is great. That is not completely true, I expected them to lose 99 games. I thought the 120 losses argument was almost comical.

    4.) Overall, I believe in "teh PLAN, though I would have done a few things differently too.

    5.) I find joy in things like beating the Twins, because they used to be the Senators and the Orioles because they are owned by baseball's biggest vindictive coward. Rivalries with friends of other teams like the Phillies and Pirates also keep me interested.

    6.) For being a pretty bad ballclub, I don't sense a culture of defeatism in that Nats like the Orioles or Pirates.

    By Blogger WFY, at 6/14/2007 8:11 AM  

  • Randall -- Two reasons. 1) You're making the mistake of assuming that all that money "saved" is helping the team down the road, and that it's one or the other. That's not true.

    2) If you've got a .500 team, with a little luck, it's in the playoff hunt in September. Right now, we've got a .400 team that's getting a little lucky and playing like a .500 team.


    1 means nothing to me because I'm a carpetbagging SOB, but I understand why some, especially the 40-year olds who grew up in this area, feel that way.

    3 is definitely true. But for as well as we're playing, we're still on pace for 90 losses, right about where I had them pegged.

    6 is the only thing that keeps me going!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/14/2007 9:03 AM  

  • I don't sense a culture of defeatism in that Nats like the Orioles or Pirates.

    Could not agree more. I have a job that lets me go to games in both cities, and despite the beautiful stadium, better press accommodations, better concessions, and FAR friendlier stadium personnel, working at Camden Yards has become downright depressing (based on five years worth of experience).

    There's no joy, no fun in the way the Orioles play baseball. It's as if a dark cloud has settled over the whole Orioles world, ruining what once was--and still should be--a great baseball experience.

    Win or lose, that joy is present in the Nats (and, arguably, it was even present with Robinson as the manager). Plan or no plan, that's what makes the Nats watchable, and what has endeared them to me, even as I have distanced myself from almost all other things associated with the DC area.

    By Blogger SR, at 6/14/2007 9:12 AM  

  • Nats vs. O's - boy, we have a long way to go to make this a meaningful rivalry. I was at Bailey's sports bar in Ballston on Tuesday night. I had to ask the waitress to put the Nats/O's game up on one of the multiple screens. Then twice during the night they switched to other games, apparentky at the request of other patrons, first the Yankess, then the PHILLIES for God's sake.

    If Nats/O's doesn't even generate enough interest to maintain a screen at a local sports bar BOTH of these franchises have a long way to go. The Nats, at least, have the excuse of repairing what MLB wrought upon the franchise.

    That said, this recents odds-defying run has been quite fun.

    By Anonymous bdrube, at 6/14/2007 9:44 AM  

  • Money "saved" -- remember that it's not just money saved this year, it's in future years as well. Would you want to be paying Fonzie $18 or so million in his age 39 season? Show me the guy who could have helped this team this year who signed a one year deal?

    It's better for the franchise to have roster and financial flexibility going forward than to take on obligations for short term gain. Think Ole' Teddy Online wishes he had never heard of Jaromir Jagr? He's still stroking checks to Jagr and its crippled the Caps. But hey, at least Jagr took them to the playoffs right? You do remember that?

    You want to kill the organization for being cheap? Kill them if they don't sign the McGreary kid, kill them if they don't make another big international splash like Smiley come July 1. Kill them if they don't add at least one or two pieces this off season. But right now, they are doing a hell of a lot better than a few organizations. How'd you like to be a Rangers fan? When was the last time the Pirates had a winning season. And how about the Orioles? Give me suckitude and hope over perpetual mediocrity.

    By Anonymous Kirk, at 6/14/2007 10:22 AM  

  • Kirk, did you read what I wrote? I've never once killed them for not signing Soriano. Hell, I haven't even killed them for not trading him!

    I really don't think you understand any of my points, or at least you're acting overly hostile towards them. Whatever. Sometimes I'm not clear with what I write. I guess this is one of those cases.

    But yeah, the Nats should've spent eleventy bazillion dollars, signing Bonds, Soriano and Jason Schmidt!1!!1!!1!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/14/2007 10:29 AM  

  • Now there's passion!!!!!

    By Blogger Dan, at 6/14/2007 10:55 AM  

  • Any opportunity to embarass that jackass Angelos in his own park makes for a great night of baseball. Especially when it's an 11 inning 3 1/2 hour effort to prove how bad these bOrioles truly are this season. I've thoroughly enjoyed watching this series. In fact it's the first time all season I've watched two Nats games on consecutive nights. Tonight I go for the triple night extravaganza.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/14/2007 12:12 PM  

  • I have been pretty surprised to find myself cheering for these guys and enjoying the season. The first couple weeks were kind of like a car wreck - I just had to watch out of horrified fascination, if nothing else. I do worry about the team sinking into dreariness after all the trades are made. Will there be much left to cheer for in August?

    By Blogger baerry, at 6/14/2007 5:20 PM  

  • Yes!! We won the season series against the Blowrioles, and swept Angelos' asses on his own turf!

    I don't care what happens the rest of the season. Mission accomplished!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/14/2007 10:48 PM  

  • Congratulations on getting some screentime on Washington Post Live the other night. You saw it, right? They mentioned the name of the blog, gave the URL, and showed a screenshot of the "Lesser Team" post.

    By Blogger Richard, at 6/15/2007 5:14 PM  

  • By Blogger Sneakers hobbies, at 10/29/2009 9:22 PM  

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