I don’t see myself as an optimist, at least not unequivocally so. When I made the decision to leave my old job last July, I described my motivation to several coworkers by saying that “I don’t like being miserable.” I think that best describes my general outlook on life. I am not an optimist or a pessimist – I just don’t like being miserable. I mention this because I would imagine that if this blog is lucky enough to achieve some sort of steady following, that many readers will view us as being overly optimistic when it comes to the Orioles. That is okay with me. I have been called a lot worse things in my life than an “optimist” or Kool Aid drinker. At the same time, I don’t think that description is entirely accurate. My outlook on the Orioles has less to do with optimism and more to do with not wanting to be angry, bitter, or miserable. As I mentioned in my introductory post, baseball in general and the Orioles specifically, are two things I really receive a lot of enjoyment from. Going to games and obsessively following the team all year around is a hobby; an escape from the often less pleasant realities of everyday life. Therefore, if I can help it, I like to not dwell too much on the many negatives surrounding the Orioles franchise. I don’t deny these negatives exist nor do I act like everything is sunny and great. Believe me, I am more than aware that this franchise is woefully behind the curve in many facets and realistically still a ways away from serious contention. I understand that and at times it frustrates me just like it frustrates any fan of the team.
At the same time, if I am going to bemoan the state of the franchise every single day, I am not going to be very happy. I left my prior job because I didn’t want to be miserable and I would give up my devotion to the Orioles for the same reason. I don’t want to do that, so instead I chose to enjoy being a fan of the Orioles in spite of the team’s flaws. They are a flawed organization, but they are my flawed organization. When Matt Wieters hits a walk off homerun to win a July game, I am going to go nuts and cheer loudly. I am not going to come on this blog and say, “It was nice the team won, but they are still ten games below .500”. When the Orioles eliminate the Red Sox from the playoffs with a dramatic win on the final day of the season, I am going to enjoy and remember that moment. I am not going to complain how sad it is that knocking the Red Sox out of the playoffs was the one of the team’s biggest accomplishments in the past 14 seasons. I just don’t see the sense in not allowing myself to enjoy the team’s accomplishments when they occur as small as they might be.
When you cut through all of the optimism/pessimism semantics, at the end of the day my views on the Orioles’ organization probably aren't all that different than anyone else’s. The team is far behind in many basic areas, especially when it comes to scouting and player development, although I do believe Dan Duquette has made some necessary first steps to improving those areas. I would have preferred to see the front office be more aggressive in either improving the 2012 roster or making moves towards acquiring more talent for the future. The only area on next year’s team that is significantly improved is pitching depth, with the quality of that pitching still a relative uncertainty. Without accounting for any possible improvement from players already on the team, that realistically places the 2012 Orioles as a low to mid 70’s-win team. That doesn’t sound like a rose-colored glasses assessment to me.
The point being, I believe that being realistic about the team’s chances and being positive are not mutually exclusive. I know in my heart of hearts exactly what kind of team the Orioles have entering into the 2012 season. That leaves me with three choices: (1) Stop following the team; (2) Follow the team but dwell on the negatives; or (3) Follow the team and focus on the positives. Everyone is free to choose whatever option they want and one option isn’t necessarily better than the other. I enjoy baseball the O’s too much to just stop watching them altogether and I don’t like being miserable while doing so, so the option for me is easy.
As you can probably tell, both Tim and I have a lot of thoughts on this subject and all of the complexities and absurdities that go into being a fan of a professional sports team. I am sure we will write a lot more about those subjects, especially once the season gets underway.
(Quick note on content – For the next few weeks we will probably be providing a hodge-podge of posts on various Orioles and baseball related subjects, with little flow or continuity. We are currently kicking around some ideas for different features that we will probably kickoff later in February or early March as spring training gets underway. The idea would be to run those features in the weeks leading up to the season and then settle into a somewhat regular format for the 2012 season after Opening Day. So stay tuned for those features in the upcoming weeks and in the meantime, we will try to get up as many posts of our random thoughts up as possible as Tim and I try to get this blogging thing down).