Orioles: Let me count the ways
I'll be sitting in front of the television today when the Orioles face the Angels in the series finale from Anaheim, just to see what new form of torture awaits their fans. Last night's 12th-inning collapse wasn't anything we haven't seen before, but it was a devastating loss made even more painful (for the fans) because it was on the west coast and ended in the wee hours of the morning on the east coast.
Manager Buck Showalter tried to put the best face on it afterward, but you just can't dress up a pig like that. Frankly, I don't know why Buck isn't hitch-hiking back to Bristol to beg for his ESPN gig back.
The amazing thing about the Orioles -- from my jaundiced perspective -- is this: It seems like every year, somebody asks me if this is the worst Orioles season since I moved to Baltimore...or if I've ever seen so much bad baseball in a confined time frame. Last year, I was unequivocal when those questions were thrown at me in midseason. The first 100 games of 2010 was the worst stretch I had witnessed up close in my three decades or so of baseball coverage.
Now, I've got to rethink that. This Orioles team isn't playing as ugly as the one that Showalter took over last August, but when you factor in all the circumstances attending to this season, I think this is the most painful season yet.
Why? Let me count the ways.
1. I stubbornly refused to believe that last year's team would lose 100 games, even though it was headed hard in that direction until Buck showed up. Losing 100 is very hard to do, but I now believe this team will accomplish that dubious feat.
2. On paper, this team is better than last year's team -- by a wide margin. That makes it even more discouraging to watch this mess.
3. I now believe there is an Orioles curse. I guess the AL East has to have a curse going at all times and -- once the Red Sox ended the 86-year "Curse of the Bambino" and the Tampa Bay Rays got to the World Series -- where else were the cruel baseball gods going to turn?
4. It has reached the point where I now watch every game with the same sense of anticipation, apprehension and morbid curiosity that I feel just before I pass a particularly nasty accident on I-95.
5. This was the supposed turnaround year in the Andy MacPhail rebuilding project. Nobody expected the Orioles to go to the playoffs, but there were actually some modest expectations, which only makes it all the more painful for the fans who still believed.
6. They have taken losing to a new level. No longer content to just get their keisters kicked all over the ballparks of America, the Orioles have begun a daily dance during which they tease you with a late comeback or an exciting home run or -- in rare cases -- a good performance from the starting rotation. Then they "Godfather" you and pull you back into their swirling downspout of doom.
7. Yes, I have finally been reduced to using the phrase "swirling downspout of doom." Managed to avoid that for about 31 seasons.
8. I can no longer suspend my disbelief and come up with ludicrous year-out scenarios in which the Orioles (a) grow into contention; (b) open the vault and sign enough real free agent talent to compete; or (c) get to the All-Star break with three of their original starters still healthy.
9. Koji Uehara was not only one of the most effective pitchers on the team before he was traded to the Rangers, he was also one of the healthiest.
10. I now believe I will win the Power Ball jackpot before the Orioles reach the playoffs. I realize that the odds of picking all five regular numbers and the Power Ball correctly are 1 in 195 million, yet I still feel more optimistic when I pick up my bi-weekly Quick Pick than when I watch an O's game.
Bonus reason: Could have sworn I saw Jim Hunter in the "A" lot last week trying to scratch the "I (heart) the O's" sticker off his bumper.
Instant update: First pitch is at 3:35.
Postgame update: Though the O's could not match Saturday night's frustration, they exceeded it in futility with one of their worst defensive performances in a long time. The beat, apparently, goes on.