O's: What it all means
It's hard to hide from the fact that I have said over and over in this space that there was no way the Orioles would lose 100 games this year...and I believed that because it's really, really hard to do. Now, I'll be surprised if they can rebound during the final week of the season to win three of seven games and avoid slipping below the standings equivalent of the Mendoza line.
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the few teams that has found plenty of ways to lose to the O's this year, but I'm guessing they'll figure things out over the next four games. My crystal ball says the Orioles win one of the four games at Tropicana Field, which means they will have to win two of three against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards this weekend to stop at 99 losses.
What does it all mean? Not much from a nuts-and-bolts perspective. The season has been a total bust from a win/loss perspective and that wouldn't change if the O's won all of their remaining games. That 100th defeat might come with some negative psychological implications, since it's like a big neon sign that tells free agents to steer clear of a doormat franchise, but it really shouldn't change the way anybody looks at the team headed into next season.
The Orioles still have the same reasons to be optimistic about a more competitive 2010, and the same reasons to wonder if they will ever get off the floor in the American League East. They've reached the point where they're probably better off long-term if they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the No. 2 pick in next year's draft, but who really wants to go there? That is the consolation prize of a truly desperate situation.