I was just reading a bit about the Orioles dramatic fall to the bottom of the American League basement again and despite the suspense of finding out whether the Orioles will lose 100 games, there is really little reason to either watch or write about the Orioles. As a traditional fan myself who fervently believes that baseball is the best of spectator sports because it gives you time to relax with a beer and, ostensibly a friend, and talk about whatever comes to mind with sporting action in-between. But reading the headline for The Sun’s September 24 edition I read last night’s starting pitcher’s reaction to the loss and the overall malaise of the Orioles and thought “what is he thinking?”
The Baltimore Sun reports: “The Orioles (60-92) have been swept twice this year in a three-game series by the Blue Jays (69-83) and finish the season 1-8 at Rogers Centre. They must win at least three of their final 10 games to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1988.”
jeremy Guthrie said: “We’re trying to battle to the end, and I think guys are doing a great job of that. I actually didn’t know we had lost seven in a row,” … “Ideally, I think as players we try to come in and perform to the best of our ability and take them one at a time. If they stack up in a losing streak such as the one we’re in, so be it.”
I usually take athlete’s comments with a grain of salt—often they know what goes through their mind but not often how to explain that to an audience, but in this case I had to take exception and maybe this just shows the distance between someone who was never paid to play a thing and guys making gobs of money.
In this case, while I find it disappointing to know that he hadn’t realized the Orioles were in the worst streak of the season, I find the second statement a little harder to accept. It’s certainly without question that the O’s have been toasted by the late summer calendar by many of the top teams (at least in their own division) and that may boil down to talent development issues that are to be expected in a “rebuilding” year. But, the whole “one game at a time” mularkey—a saying frozen in film in movies like Bull Durham as something you say that’s obvious—but a cover to prove you’re focused. Yeah, I get it.
I understand all that. But there is no post-season for the Orioles. This is it. Why not play for a little respect (and with a little focus and anger) which is a touch more than playing each day one at a time. It’s telling yourself “I don’t care, but those guys aren’t going to beat us three games in a row.” His response reminds me of DMV employees explaining away a bad process: “of course, you’re a professional, of course, you play every game one day at a time.” When you’re losing, how can you not play every game one day at a time. What are dreaming of going to get swept in Boston? Every now and then it needs to be about this win, right here.
Because there are times when losing is more than a loss. Losing now further erodes the patient public. Losing now further erodes the notion that even in a 100-loss season, there’s something you can do to change things.