I've had some time to reflect on the Orioles, their 1-8 start, as well as the long and bumpy road that took them from ALCS appearances in 1996 and 1997 to 12 consecutive years of losing, and a 2010 season that looks to be another miserable one.
And you know what I came up with?
They are still the Baltimore Orioles. MY team.
Like many Orioles fans, I've been cursing them to death during the last week and a half, and I've sworn off watching any more games this season. I probably won't watch as much baseball this year as I have in the past -- especially in April and May -- when the Orioles are actually decent, but I still can't shake the attachment I have to this team.
I grew up listening to Oriole games on my alarm clock radio as I fell asleep on hot summer nights, when I didn't have any air conditioning in my bedroom. I still remember the sounds of WBAL commercials and the order in which they would air. I remember the soothing voices of Jon Miller and Chuck Thompson. I remember the importance of a Cal Ripken at bat, and when Orioles games actually mattered in July, August and September. I remember watching the standings with a close eye and rooting for teams like the Yankees and Blue Jays to lose.
Being an Oriole fan was inherited. It was as natural as learning to read, or riding a bike. It was just something that happened without thought.
So what I've come away with in this 1-8 start is that this is my team, good or bad. And Lord knows they have been bad.
Take this for instance: I am 30 years old. The Orioles have been stuck in this losing pattern for almost half my lifetime. The thought makes me feel old and depressed at the same time. The last time the Orioles had a winning season, I was a senior in high school. Kids who are ages 16-21 probably don't even remember the last time the Orioles were any good.
It's a sobering reality of how long the Orioles have been a bad baseball team.
But at the end of the day, I'll always be an Oriole fan.
If the 2010 season really goes into the tank these next few weeks,and it looks like it will, that's OK. I just won't watch much more baseball this summer. The absence of the sights and sounds of baseball will sting, but I just can't bring myself to watch another losing season. And the last thing I would ever do is start to root for another team.
That will just never happen.
So whether they are 1-8, 2-16 or 4-32, they are the Baltimore Orioles...my team.