Great Expectations

Unrealistic expectations usually lead to disappointment.  

The beginning of each baseball season brings new hope for all 30 major league clubs.  As a fan, if you don’t have new hope and passion, what’s the point?  At the same time, its important to understand the length of the season and understand that 162 games are a marathon, not a sprint.  In today’s society, where instant gratification is almost demanded, patience has become even more of a prized commodity.  

With the first week of the Baltimore Orioles 2013 season complete, the Orioles stand at 3-3.  Chris Davis opened the season on a complete tear, hitting four home runs in four games, while driving in 17 runs.  Despite average bullpen outings in Tampa, the team managed to still take two from the always competitive Rays.  And then to cap it off, the O’s came back in dramatic fashion on Opening Day at Camden Yards behind the fourth Chris Davis home run of the season.  For a team that defined “underdog story” in 2012, it was a great start that looked to reproduce some more of the amazing moments from a year ago.

But baseball is baseball, primarily because of the 162 games played over the course of a regular season.  A great team usually only wins 90-95 games, which is approximately 55% of its games.  The other 45%?  Losses.  Even a powerhouse team with 100 wins still loses 62 games.  

After the 3-1 start, the Orioles proceeded to drop the next two against the Twins and there are already grumblings at Camden Yards and on the internet about the Orioles “needing” and “having” to win every game.  But that doesn’t have to happen nor will it because of the nature of baseball.  It’s just flat out unrealistic and unreasonable to expect that.  

One of the beautiful aspects of the 2012 season was that fans really had no idea what to expect throughout the season.  At the end of April, the team was 14-9, but we had seen those starts before.  After the All Star break, the team fell to a season low 45-42 and it looked like everything was falling off the cliff.  September 6th comes and the Orioles come into the game against the Yankees one game out of first place and leave the night tied for first place in the AL East.  Three very different times in the season, three very different places in the standings.

Even with that, who would have thought that the Orioles would leave Arlington, Texas on October 5 with the first American League Wild Card?  The taste of success was great for the team, great for the fan base, and great for baseball, which is always in need of new teams at the top.  

And once you get the taste of success as a fan, you want it all the time.  It’s very natural, very human.

Baseball is a game of streaks, hot and cold spells, dramatic highs and miserable lows.  The hot and cold times are going to come and go, whether you want them to or not.  It’s riding out the highs and dealing with the lows that gets you to the end result.  Three losses in April hardly makes a season.  Just like two losses in the final three games of the regular season in 2012; they weren’t great moments, but they weren’t any different from the 67 that came before them.  

There is still plenty more baseball to be played.