I am an Orioles fan, by birth, by inclination, by grooming, by necessity; I was born in Baltimore, grew up there, and was five when the Orioles won their last World Series. I don’t think I can take another season of the grim march of probability. I have often said that being a baseball fan is the truest test of the human capacity to love. I feel as though I am perilously close to failing that test. At what point does it become acceptable to break up with the Orioles? How long do I have to wait before picking another team to root for? Or will it all be worthwhile if I grin and bear it for another summer, another five or fifteen or fifty summers?
Dear Dan (Duquette?),
I don’t understand. You’re feeling hopeless about the Orioles? The on-the-cusp-of-a-championship Orioles? Listen to Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz: “There is no question of the talent these young guys have. If you’re looking at championships down the line—and that’s why you play the game—that’s what these guys can bring.” He’s talking about Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, the cornerstones of the Orioles pitching staff. Oh, wait, he was talking about them in April 2010, and he’s actually ex-Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Oops.
But, hey, Matusz, Bergesen, and Tillman are all still in the organization. Still young. And, uh, not exactly ticketed for the rotation… or so says NBC’s Hardball Talk. Of course, pitching prospects go bust. But look at the rest of the roster. There’s Brian Roberts– okay, no, Brian, you don’t have to come over here. Stay where you are, Brian. I know, you can’t move. Got it. Okay, who else? First baseman Chris Davis? Yes, first baseman Chris Davis! “Fantasy leaguers, be advised: Bill James is projecting a breakout season for Texas Rangers first baseman Chris Davis, who hit 17 home runs in 80 big-league games … as a rookie. How big a breakout? James predicts 40 home runs, 118 RBIs and a .302 average from Davis.”
Oh, no. My NotGraphs research team keeps bringing me expired news. Seems that Bill James was predicting that stuff in 2009. Okay, so that didn’t happen. Moving on. Robert Andino at second base. How can you not get excited about Robert Andino? Or rotation ace Jason Hammel. He was supposed to be good at some point, too. My research team is having trouble finding a quote. How about, “his best should be good enough” from Baseball Prospectus in 2009? Let’s go with that.
The 2012 Orioles: the answer to the question, “So where is Dana Eveland now?”
I think I’m finally understanding what prompted you to write to me. I’m giving you permission. Drop the Orioles. Pick someone else. Life’s too short to wait for a championship, especially if that championship is unlikely to happen within a normal human life span. I say this as a Mets fan who is fairly convinced that he has already lapsed. I can’t imagine paying money to go to a Mets game at any point in the near future. I root for more news about Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz being co-conspirators with Bernie Madoff, because that is the most interesting news there is about the Mets lately. I root for epic disaster– 125 losses?– because anything is better than bland mediocrity.
I know, it feels like you’d be giving up. But it’s their fault, not yours. You rooted, they lost. You stop rooting, they will continue to lose. It’s Peter Angelos, an abusive spouse who’s forcing you to leave for your own safety. Plus, there’s an exciting young team just a few miles away over in Washington. How can you not be tempted by Stephen Strasburg and, uh, leadoff hitter Ian Desmond? Ex-Orioles manager leading the charge? I won’t tell anyone, I promise.
We are not bound to the teams we are born rooting for. Just like the players leave, we can leave. We can leave whenever we want. Be strong. You can do it. Rooting for DH Wilson Betemit does not have to be your future.
Have a question for Ask NotGraphs!? Come on, I know you do. E-mail me, or leave your question in the comments, and yours might be next!
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