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Let’s Play Two!

April 7, 2011

Seriously, let’s play all 162 games right now. It’s a beautiful day. If we hustle between innings, we can maybe fit them all in.

The 2011 baseball season started last week, and with the way the O’s have started things off, it feels like they might win all 162 (note: they are losing as I am typing this so this can’t possibly be considered a jinx post). At least that’s what you’ll hear if you talk to any O’s fan, myself included. It’s been 13 seasons of sub-.500 baseball. It’s been 13 years since we last opened up 4-0. We spent some money on some somewhat big names in the offseason, and with Buck Showalter at the helm, we’re on a 101-win pace. I think we have a reason to be optimistic, but maybe we’re pressing a little too hard on the sunshine pedal.

When I was coaching basketball (shout out to the Jewish Day School!), you could always tell how good the team we were playing was by their fans’ reaction to their first bucket. If it was anywhere from Phil Mickelson putting for the Masters championship to “Hey, thanks for the cranberry juice” we were in trouble. Of course, we only lost one game in two seasons and typically opposing fans treated the first basket like it was ’88 and Nintendo was wrapped up underneath the Xmas tree.

Right now, O’s fans sound a bit like its the first :30 we haven’t trailed in a high school JV basketball game all year. I’ll admit it, taken as a whole, perhaps us Orioles fans are getting a little too worked up for being 77 wins shy of a .500 season. But why shouldn’t we be? It’s been 13 miserable seasons. We’ve lost 24 of 26. We’ve lost a game 30-3. Last season we almost broke our own record for worst start to the season by opening up 2-16.

In reality, with that kind of recent history, it’s actually a wonder anyone showed up for the home opener. However, maybe it was the record April heat, but if this season’s first game at Camden Yards was any indicator, O’s fans are a little more excited and optimistic than they usually are this time of year. Case in point (love what you did here, Face):

Sure we’re going a little bit over the top, but who can blame us? Even though, we might sound like parents short of opportunities to publicly support our children’s far fetched aspirations for professional athletics, really, there’s a little more to it.

For whatever reason, there’s been a groundswell among O’s fans since pitchers and catchers reported to camp in February. It’s a little like seeing the people of Buffalo emerge from a winter of record snows, inexplicably optimistic that maybe this might be the last thaw.

How can you look at the smiles on their faces, the hop in their steps, the enthusiasm of their rush to outdoor happy hours, and even think of reminding them that the snows will come again? Sometimes you’ve just got to believe things have changed.

So I say, embrace the optimism.There will be plenty of losses, but hey, maybe we’ll flirt with 81 wins this year instead of 100 losses.

Some of us are counting on it.

"Pick me out a winner, Bobby."


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