O's: This is the Pitts
If you've been reading me regularly -- and who hasn't -- you know that I said it was imperative for the Orioles to win their interleague series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now because of any rivalry between the two cities, but because of the sad state of baseball in both towns and what it says to fans when you're selling a turnaround and you can't beat the NL version of yourself.
This is not about where the Orioles are in their redevelopment, because we already know where they are. It's really just a matter of public relations, because the most positive fans are looking for any reason to be optimistic and this series provided just the opposite. If you can't beat the other struggling teams, you're just exascerbating your credibility problem.
Here's the most important thing I learned from this series. The key player in this losing equation -- like last year is a player who isn't playing. Brian Roberts, when healthy, is the glue that holds the infield defense and the batting order together. When and if he comes back, I suspect you'll see a much more competitive team, but you've got to be starting to doubt whether Roberts will play again this season.