Tag: Baltimore Orioles
It is obvious to me that Spring rules. Shh, this is not open to debate. You know I am right and I know I am right, so let’s not have this fight. May is no time to be contrary. Spring rules!!!
Here are the top seven reasons why Spring is awesome:
7. Baseball Begins. There are those who say that baseball is boring, that it is too slow. Some people complain that the game has been long since ruined by things like steroids, free agency, and fish tacos. Those people did not grow up in Baltimore. When I was a boy, three things mattered: eating, breathing, and The Baltimore Orioles. As any girl I have ever dated can attest, I have yet to grow up. Go O’s!!!
6. Motorcycle Season Begins. Every April when I uncover my Suzuki SV650 and start her up for the first time, I get a tingly feeling. And not just the tingly feeling between my legs from revving the engine. I am talking about the excitement of looking forward to a new year on the open road. Plus the other one. That’s good too. Mmmm, Suzi!
5. People in New York Are Less Miserable. Buoyant! Cheerful! Perky! These are words that never apply to New Yorkers! Not even in Spring! But the fact that another brutal winter is over makes the smirk on the average Manhattanite’s face just a smidgen less sarcastic than usual. And that’s good enough for me, he said with a slightly sarcastic smirk.
4. Aids Walk New York. It’s the largest AIDS fundraiser in the world. The eighties may be over, but this disease still affects millions of people. This year the event is on May 16th. It is always a great time and of course it is a great cause! Get involved at www.gmhc.org.
3. Comedy Clubs Contain People. The first few months of the year are challenging in the comedy business. The truth is many New Yorkers spend the coldest months in hibernation. Those people are ready to go out and have fun once the weather finally breaks. And Fun is my middle name (I had it legally changed from Myron).
2. Central Park Is My Backyard. Okay, I actually do not live that close to CP but I love her so much that I make it a point of visiting at least twice a week during the warm months. A 25-minute walk or a five-minute motorcycle ride and I’m in heaven. Sheep Meadow and Heckscher Field are good places to look for me this month. Unless I owe you money, in which case I hate hot chicks and softball. Try the DMV. I’m probably there. Yeah.
1. New York Women Are Not Modest! For an Orioles fan, by this point in the season the only true spectator sport of interest is girl-watching. The most beautiful women in the world live in New York, and fortunately for all of us they are not shy. Spring brings with it a certain promise of skin that could incite riots to make Stravinsky proud. Panama City Beach can have their tawdry Spring Break antics; Rio de Janeiro can have their half-naked Carnivale. For real girl-watching infused with style and attitude, you just can’t beat the streets of New York, where the world’s hottest women pretend not to care that no one can take their eyes off of them. Truly the greatest sport of all!
This time last year, I predicted that the Orioles would not suck forever. They sucked last year, but that’s not forever.
And they did not suck for all of last year, either. After finishing the first half only six games under .500, the 2009 Orioles began to suck hard after trading away their closer, best hitter, and several other pieces of an already incomplete puzzle. The second half of 2009 was really about calling exciting young prospects up to the big leagues to see what they could do. The growing pains were obvious and Baltimore finished 2009 with 98 losses.
I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the Orioles will not lose 98 games in 2010! This team is young, hungry, and talented. Every area in which the Orioles disappointed last year has been improved for 2010. I believe they have done enough to finally break the 12-year losing streak and turn the corner into respectability.
After enduring 12 consecutive losing seasons (The O’s have not made the playoffs since going wire-to-wire in the AL East in 1997), fans have the right to be skeptical. But I feel there is much cause for optimism. Hey, it’s February! My prediction? 87 wins! Same total as the “Why not?” season of 1989. Hey, as we said back then between bites of Jack’s corned beef on Lombard Street, “Why not, hon?”
The Oriole starting pitching staff is greatly improved from last year. Kevin Millwood is a proven horse. Jeremy Guthrie is coming off a down year, but he put up good numbers in 2007 and 2008 and is looking to rebound. Brad Bergeson was looking like a Rookie of the Year candidate last year before a line drive to the shin ended his season in July. Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz have been on every scout’s list of hot prospects for several years, and both gained big league experience in 2009. This young, intriguing staff could surprise the world right out of the gate!
The Orioles ranked fifth in the AL in batting average and doubles in 2009 but were below average in most other statistical offensive categories. This year, the improved offense could be a lot of fun to watch!
The Orioles’ outfielders can match up with any team in the majors. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are budding superstars, five tool players the likes of which the Orioles have not had in my lifetime (with apologies to Ken Singleton and Al Bumbry).
At catcher, Baltimore boasts last year’s most talked about, and perhaps history’s most overhyped, rookie in Matt Wieters. Wieters is a true stud at the position, with a great arm and sky’s-the-limit offensive potential. He batted .362 with 14 RBI in September, and if he looks anything like that this Spring, you will see a lot of smiles in Sarasota.
Two more players to watch are new corner infielders Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada. Atkins returns to his natural position after yielding the post to Todd Helton in Colorado, while former Oriole (and former MVP) Tejada will make the transition to third base that so many other great shortstops (including Cal Ripken) have done around his age (36).
Up the middle, the Orioles have one of the best double-play combinations in baseball with Brian Roberts and Cesar Izturis. Both are terrific infielders who may not always make the Sportscenter highlights but who almost always make the play.
The bullpen is also improved, with new closer Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez is one of the top lefty relievers in the game, and his addition allows setup man Jim Johnson to return to his proper role after inheriting closer duties from George Sherrill after he was traded to the Dodgers for Josh Bell. And do not forget Koji Uehara, the Japanese import who in 2009 was forced into a starting role and subsequently shut down due to injury. Uehara should thrive in the bullpen, as he is not built for the endurance required of MLB starters.
“Well, if the Orioles look so great, let’s just bet the farm they win the World Series, Clayton!” Not so fast, hypothetical respondent! While the Orioles are greatly improved, they still have many question marks. A team this young may struggle with endurance, focus, personality, variance, emotion, and health. Additionally, the Oriole offense lacks a true cleanup hitter and is wanting for power throughout the lineup. Two corner infielders not playing the same position as last year raises a red flag as well.
And then there’s that little detail of playing in the toughest division in sports, the AL East! I am convinced the Orioles could win the AL Central, but guess what? That’s not where they play. If the Orioles do not improve their record within the division it is very hard to imagine them finishing over .500 in 2010.
I for one am truly excited about the product Peter Angelos and Company are putting onto the field this year. Much remains to be seen, but that is the fun of having a fresh, young, up and coming team like the 2010 Baltimore Orioles. I say let’s party like it’s 1989.