Every fan of the Orioles that I talk to has set their own benchmark for what they consider a true sign of Orioles success. For some, it’s finishing a season with a .500 or better record, something an O’s team has failed to do in fourteen seasons. For others, the goal is a bit loftier – making the playoffs or even winning a World Series. For me, my benchmark is simple. I will be content with the progress the Orioles have made and the success they have achieved the day fans and journalists can refer to the Orioles as a “good team” without any sort of qualifiers attached. When the Buster Olneys or Ken Rosenthals of the world start writing “the Orioles are a good team” without attaching a “but” immediately afterwards, that’s when I will be satisfied. When fans can confidently and accurately state that the Orioles starting pitching or bullpen is “good” without adding “ . . . so far”, that will be a happy day. That’s when I will finally feel like the O’s have achieved a substantial level of success and are on the way to bigger and better things.
That’s probably a bit of hyperbole, but only a little. I am just tired of all of the qualifiers attached to any positive statement about the Orioles. I understand why those qualifiers are there. I use them myself all the time. It is not that I don’t think they are warranted right now, I just can’t wait for the day they start to diminish and eventually go away almost entirely. Whether it happens in two weeks, two months, or two years, once you start to see the “buts” and “howevers” fade out, that means the perception of the team has changed. That means the O’s will have gone from a bad team, to a team that is “good, but . . . “, to an unequivocally good team. I’ve almost forgotten what that’s like.
There was a CBS Sports blog post this morning on the O’s pitching success in 2012 that partially inspired this post. You can read it here. The author praises the O’s pitching so far, but continually reminds readers (almost to the point of parody) that “it is early.” Any baseball fan reading that article knows that the season is still early. It goes without saying. If an article is written about the Rangers strong start or Matt Kemp’s amazing April or the Yankees stellar offense, no such “it’s early” qualifiers are attached. They might be implied, but they aren’t explicitly stated. It’s because for those cases, it might be early but most baseball fans feel pretty confident that those successes can continue. There is a track record there in all three cases and a ton of supporting evidence to suggest that the Rangers’ record, Kemp’s offensive dominance, and the Yankee offense can all be successful over the long haul. With the O’s, there is far less positive evidence suggesting that what we saw in April will continue. In fact, there are 14 seasons of negative evidence suggesting that the team’s play in April is not sustainable. That’s why we get all the qualifiers. That’s why we read articles and listen to fans say “it’s early”, “but”, and “however” whenever they reference the O’s success. I can’t wait for the day where the O’s success is treated the same as the Yankees’ or Rangers’ success – without qualifications.
Having said that (which itself is just a fancy “but”), the O’s realistically still have a ways to go before that day comes. At 15-9 after the first month of the season and with a lot of positive on-field signs to support the record, that day does feel a lot closer than it did before the start of the season.