Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The end of an era

Lost began airing in 2004.

24 began airing in 2001.

Two nights. Two finales. And the end of what I call the Golden Age of Modern Television.

It all began around 1999 with the launch of HBO's The Sopranos. Sure, there had been some shows that had pushed the boundaries of censorship on television before (NYPD Blue, which began airing in 1993, comes to mind), but on HBO, The Sopranos were able to do pretty much anything that any R-rated movie could do, and they could do it on TV. And other HBO shows such as The Wire, Rome and True Blood carried on that ability.

And that same "push the envelope" style eventually trickled down to network dramas, such as The Shield (FX), Alias (ABC) as well as Lost and 24. Granted, these shows were on the major networks, so what they could get away with paled in comparison to shows on HBO. But in the end, shows like 24 and Lost pushed the boundaries of what could be done in the hour-long format on television. I mean, the last few episodes of 24 included a disembowelment, a skewering, various head-shots, and a bitten-off ear!

What 24 and Lost represented was viewer commitment. These weren't shows that you could drop in and out of. They demanded consistent loyalty and viewership, or you could find yourself asking "what the hell is going on?" This was especially true of Lost, which routinely puzzled its viewers with elaborate mysteries week after week. Sometimes, just watching each episode of Lost wasn't enough, you needed to research each episode on websites like Lostpedia or on chat rooms and message boards to discuss different theories to stay up to speed.

But the demand for viewer loyalty is where the similarities of these shows ended. At their core, the Lost and 24 couldn't be any more different.

24, which took place in "real time", was all action and adventure; with an endless barrage of double-crosses, major character deaths, and races against the clock to prevent national terrorist attacks.

Lost, on the other hand, dealt with a much more weighty issues: faith, fate vs free will, religion, and redemption. It also relied heavily on symbolism and allusion, referring to numerous books, movies, and other forms of art to entice the viewer and prompt discussion. If the water cooler discussion for 24 usually involved "I can't believe Jack did that last night!", the discussion for Lost was more like a college seminar on mythology and literature, and each discussion could last just as long. And the Lost 101 professor was Jeff "Doc" Jensen, a TV reporter for Entertainment Weekly, who gained fame for his extensive Lost re-cap articles, in which he broke down pretty much every scene of each episode and pontificated aloud for a dozen or so pages every week. The same just couldn't be done for 24 unless it included obituaries for each of the characters killed every week.

That isn't to say that its deep subject matter made Lost better than 24. It's a matter of opinion as to which show you prefer: the breezy, break-neck speed of 24 or the slow-burn novelistic approach to Lost.

What I use to judge the shows is this: How much did I look forward to watching each show? With Lost, I was excited to watch each episode -- from the pilot to the finale -- and then read Jensen's article in EW. With 24, I caught the first three seasons on DVD, and found myself saying "just one more episode" after I had already watched three in a row. But in the end, I felt that 24 couldn't sustain its format. After eight seasons, it seemed like the writers employed the same plot twists each season, with the characters and situations just changed. The "real time" format, which was originally a nifty story-telling device, became redundant, and unrealistic. Characters would routinely be shot, stabbed, have heart attacks or who knows what else, only to be up and about in the next episode, which was less than an hour's time.

And because of this, 24 became somewhat of a chore.

Lost, for me, never felt that way. Sure, there were times when Lost could test your patience (I feel the same about The Sopranos), but that what was so great about it -- its ability to drive you mad with anticipation for an answer to one of its many mysteries: What's in the Hatch? Who are The Others? Who is Jacob? What is the Smoke Monster? What is the island? And by series end, we learned the answer to just about every major mystery, without those answers being spoon-fed to the audience to the point where multiple viewings of Lost become useless. If anything, a repeat viewing of the entire series will be more rewarding than the first, since you know how it all ends and won't be demanding answers.

Unlike Lost, however, the 24 franchise is not over. If the 24 series finale told us anything, it's that there is much more to come. The finale of 24 kept Jack on the run from the authorities and basically left things open-ended for movies, which have been in the works for years. With Lost, the writers were clear, this was definitely "The End". I do think there is an opportunity for a series of Lost inspired books or comic books to spin-off and fill in some of the unanswered questions, but I think the canon of the series is definitely over. And I am glad. There was no more a fitting ending than what was presented last Sunday night. When I think about it, I still get the shivers.

With 24, I expect there to be many more double-crosses, character deaths, and pulse-pounding action sequences for years to come. And I look forward to see that happen on the big screen. I just hope the move to the big-screen gives the franchise a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Actually, it's ironic that 24 is going to the movies. It was 24, and other "boundary-pushers" like it that made me stay at home, and watch a few episodes instead of going out to the movies. The reward with television shows has always been greater, and most of the time, they're free.

In the end, both the 24 and Lost series finales closed the door to what was, without a doubt, the best decade for television, ever. They were often imitated, but never duplicated, and they both leave massive voids for the major networks to fill.

And I doubt they ever will be.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not much reason to care anymore...

The Orioles are 13-29, and have lost five out of their last six games.

They have called up Scott Moore to essentially replace Garrett Atkins at 1B, but that move withstanding, the Orioles are a worthless sack of excrement right now. Andy MacPhail refuses to make a drastic move and fire hitting coach Terry Crowley or lame-duck manager Dave Trembley.

I feel bad for both men. They aren't responsible for this disaster but they haven't helped. They have to go. It's time to get some new blood in the dugout and offer these beaten down players a new perspective on playing a mentally-draining 162 game season.

And until some drastic moves are made, there's no reason to care one bit about this team. I may not write another blog entry until they replace Crowley and/or Trembley. There's just no reason to try to find the words to describe the way I feel about this team.

If you still care, the O's travel to DC for three with the Nationals, who've hit the skids themselves lately, but are still sitting at .500 on the season.

I will be in DC on Saturday, and was originally planning to go to the game, but I am not going to bother now. The last thing I want to do is be forced to watch the Orioles play for three hours right now, much less write about them. So I am signing off.

See you when MacPhail shows me he cares about what is happening with the Baltimore Orioles.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Finally......the Orioles call up Michael Aubrey

Garrett Atkins sucks. Look at him, he is even swinging too late in this picture.

The Orioles finally made the move they should have made weeks ago when it was apparent that Garrett Atkins was the worst baseball player in the major leagues and the worst Oriole player ever. I might even replace the picture of Manny Alexander on this blog with Garrett Atkins. And I am not joking. Garrett Atkins is an insult to baseball players everywhere, from little leaguers to unlimited leagues where forty-eight year old men with beer guts still play the game because they love it. And they are still better than Garret Atkins, beer guts and all.

Anyway, the O's called up Michael Aubrey. THANK YOU, GOD!

Currently, Atkins is batting .224 with 0 home runs and 6 runs batted in. His OPS is .544. He has 5 hits in his last 47 at bats. He looks like a dork. Yet he has started 7 of the last 9 games at 1B. MacPhail's inaction on Atkins over the last two weeks is like a parent watching their child beat the family dog and McFailing to do anything about it.

MacPhail was wrong to sign Atkins in the first place, to the now infamous $4.5 million dollar contract. He would have gotten more use out of that money had he burned it. And MacPhail was even more wrong to sit back and do nothing as Atkins flailed away at the plate over the last two weeks.

On the season, Atkins has only hit a handful of balls to the warning track. People on Orioles Hangout have said he doesn't even hit the ball hard in batting practice. Maybe that's because he looks like a ball of dough and squints so much at the plate you wonder if he can even see the ball. I know people always say Coors Field is a lunching pad that makes hitters better than they really are, but now I know it's 100% true. The fact that Garrett Atkins has 98 career home runs is astonishing. I can wrap my head around the physics of black holes easier than Atkins and his 98 career home runs.

Moving on...Michael Aubrey is not going to be great at first base, but he is going to be so much better than Atkins that I am actually giddy with excitement over it. I might actually watch Oriole games again. Aubrey has a pedestrian .804 OPS in Norfolk, but he did have some success in Baltimore last year, and as long as he puts up numbers close to what he did last year, he will be a fine first baseman for the remainder of the 2010 season.

So...can you can tell I am excited by this? Well, I am not as excited as I should be. I will hold my complete excitement for when Garrett Atkins is no longer an Oriole. And that is going to happen very soon.

Or will it?

I would have thought he would have been gone by now.

EDIT: Yesterday, the Baltimore Sun stated that the Orioles would call Michael Aubrey up from Norfolk, but that has been changed to Scott Moore. The same principle applies. Moore (anyone) > Atkins.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Then and now...


And now...

Yes, the weather was cold and wet, and yes, the Orioles were playing the lowly (but still better than the Orioles) Royals, but those two pictures have to be one of the most depressing Oriole-related things I have ever seen.

I remember times in the mid 90's when I would venture out into bad weather to watch this team play in person because I couldn't imagine missing the game. Even staying dry and watching it at home on TV wasn't a good alternative.

But as things stand now, the Orioles are 12-27 and have lost 3 straight to the Indians and Royals, two teams with records similar to ours, teams we fooled ourselves into thinking we were better than.

Garrett Atkins is still your starting 1B with 0 home runs and 6 RBI.

Cesar Izturis is your starting SS with a .491 OPS.

Lou Montanez is still on the roster even though he hasn't had an at-bat since May 5th.

Dave Trembley is still your manager even though he seems to have lost his will to do anything other than stare blankly from the dugout.

And Terry Crowley is still your hitting coach even though the Orioles are the second worst offensive team in the American League.

So until there is something worthwhile to discuss in Birdland, I will leave you in peace.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Moves that need to be made now

At 12-26, the Orioles are struggling to get out of the hole they dug for themselves with that abysmal 2-16 start. And while the moves I am advocating won't likely make the O's a much better team, they are moves that take the long-term into account. And really, that is what losing teams should be doing in a lost year -- seeing who can be a part of the future, and who should go.

Move #1: Justin Turner over Julio Lugo

With Brian Roberts injured, the O's have given 56 plate appearances to a 35-year old Julio Lugo, who won't be an Oriole in 2011 and may not make it to the end of the 2010 season in orange and black. Lugo used to be a decent infielder, and despite his horrid .458 OPS thus far in Baltimore, he is a career .724 OPS player. And for a SS, that is great. But let's face it, he's on his way out of baseball. Most players signed by the Orioles usually are.

Justin Turner was on the Orioles at one point in 2010, but if you blinked, you missed him. He only received 9 AB's while he was here and failed to collect a hit. He is now back in Norfolk. Turner has a career .371 OBP and with Roberts on the mend, you'd think that Turner would have been inserted into the lead-off spot. Wrong. Dave Trembley and the Orioles fumbled this chance to see what Turner can do by batting a struggling Adam Jones in the lead-off spot in a majority of the games since Roberts was injured.

Putting Turner at 2B would allow Ty Wigginton to move to 1B where Garrett Atkins is basically a hologram at the plate. Which leads me to...

Move #2 Michael Aubrey over Garrett Atkins

Much has been said about Garrett Atkins ever since Andy MacPhail signed Atkins in the offseason and then shocked O's fans even further when he said Atkins would play 1B after 4 years of decreasing numbers at the plate. On May 17th, I've run out of words to describe how much he sucks.

The O's tried Rhyne Hughes out for a couple of weeks, and got nothing out of it. Hughes is back down at Norfolk. But that doesn't mean the O's are out of options at 1B. Remember Michael Aubrey? Aubrey played 1B for the O's late last season after Aubrey Huff was traded to the Tigers. And he actually performed pretty well. Compare his 2009 numbers with Atkins' 2010 numbers and they speak for themselves...

2010 Atkins
105 PA
7 2B
0 HR
.243 AVG
.271 OBP
.311 SLG
.582 OPS

2011 Aubrey
95 PA
7 2B
4 HR
14 RBI
.289 AVG
.326 OBP
.500 SLG
.826 OPS

So in roughly the same amount of playing time, Michael Aubrey has completely outperformed Garrett Atkins. Yet Atkins is making $4.5 million in 2010 while Michael Aubrey is fighting for playing time at 1B in Norfolk with Nolan Reimold and Rhyne Hughes.

Michael Aubrey probably won't be a long-term solution in Baltimore, but he will be an instant improvement over Atkins and could become a decent bench player used as a pinch hitter. This move should be made immediately.

You may be wondering where Ty Wigginton fits into all of this, since Turner at 2B and Aubrey at 1B leaves Wigginton without a position. Of course I would like to see Wigginton at 1B over Aubrey, but in my scenario, the next move is...

Move #3 Trade Ty Wigginton

Wigginton is a free agent after the season and unlikely to be back once this career year jacks up his price tag. I like Ty, and I think he is an asset on any team in the major leagues. But as good as Wigginton has been, and he has been great thus far, he would probably help the Orioles more in a trade than playing out the year in Baltimore. And if MacPhail can get a MLB-ready SS prospect, or a decent pitching prospect in a trade for Wigginton then I would make the move.

So there you have it. If I were GM of the Orioles, these moves would be made today. But hey, I didn't sign Garrett Atkins to a $4.5 million deal, so I wouldn't have to stick with him as long as possible to prove to everyone that I didn't completely shit the bed by signing him. So in reality, Garrett Atkins is probably your 1B until Brian Roberts comes back from the DL at which point, Wigginton moves to 1B and Atkins is benched permanently or released.

Who the hell knows what happens with Lugo.

O's lose 2 outta 3 vs. Tribe

It was a painful series, wasn't it Corey?

After taking 2 of 3 from the Mariners, the Orioles looked to continue their roll against the Indians, who were limping into Baltimore with a 12-19 record.

The series got off to a good start as the O's won the first game 8-1 behind a brilliant Jeremy Guthrie 8 IP, 2 hit performance. And things were looking good in game 2 after Brian Matusz pitched a shutout for 7 innings and the O's carried a 2-0 lead into the top of the 9th inning. But when Alfredo Simon came in to close out the game, he did the opposite. He allowed 4 ER on 3 hits (including a HR) and a walk and left the game after only getting one out.

Cal Meredith only made the damage worse, mirroring Simon's ineptitude, allowing 4 ER on 3 hits, one walk and a homerun. Final score, 8-2.

The O's had a chance to win the series yesterday, but things didn't look good when it was announced that David Hernandez would miss the start with shoulder soreness. Not that Hernandez is a great starting pitcher or anything. As a matter of fact, he's probably on his way out of the rotation. But with Mark Hendrickson filling in, the O's chances of winning the series were going down the tubes.

Hendrickson did about as good as a spot starter can do, going 5 IP, allowing 3 ER. But the Oriole bats fell asleep as they have so often this season, and they could only muster 1 run on 9 hits. The final score was 5-1. And after beating up on the Indians 8-1, the O's were outscored in the next 2 games, 13-3.

So the O's are sitting at 3-3 on the home stand, back at their season-high 14 games below .500 and failed to make any progress in the standings while facing some of the AL's weaker teams. The offense, which looked like it was heating up against the Mariners and in game 1 against the Indians, has gone back into hibernation.

The Royals come to town for two before the O's travel to Texas for two and then Washington for three, so it would be nice to see the O's get back some momentum before going back out on the road, where they are 5-15 (.250).

Well, there you have it. While the Orioles have played much better in their last 20 games (10-10) than they did to start the year (4-16), it appears as if they will never be able to dig themselves out of the hole they dug for themselves with the second worst start to a season in franchise history.

You'd think they would be able to make some progress against the worst teams in the American League, but it's pretty hard to do when you are still the worst team in the American League.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

O's win series vs. M's

The O's celebrate after coming back to beat the Mariners, 6-5.

The Orioles needed a Luke Scott grand slam to come back against the Mariners after trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the 8th. And then they needed Corey Patterson to throw out the tying run at the plate to end the game.

Needless to say, today's win over the Mariners to ensure a series win was an exciting one.

The O's couldn't muster more than a run off Felix Hernandez in 7 innings, but once the M's were forced to go to their bullpen in the 8th inning, they rallied to the tune of 5 runs. And wouldn't you know, Corey Patterson got the rally started with a solo home run.

Welcome back Corey!

This was only the second series win for the Orioles all season, the sweep of the Red Sox two weeks ago being their first. So where do the O's go from here?

They face the 13-19 Indians for three games before hosting the 12-23 Royals for two, so at least the O's have a chance to pad their record as they try to salvage their season. And with the hitting beginning to come around (11 runs in 2 days!!!) maybe the 2010 isn't a lost cause after all.

Or, when will I learn my lesson after thinking all is good after the Orioles win?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pinch me, it's 2006 all over again!!!

I'm back, bitches!

It's about to start looking like 2006 all over again.

And the pathetic thing is, it's up to you whether that is a good or bad thing.

Corey Patterson has been called up from Norfolk just a couple of weeks after he was signed to a MiL deal to rejoin the Orioles organization.

You probably remember Patterson as an Oriole the first time around, and if you do, you probably remember that he wasn't anything to write home about. He was a big prospect in the Cubs system early on in the 2000's, but he never had enough consistency to warrant a starting job. So the Cubs traded him to the O's for your proverbial bag of balls in Carlos Perez and Nate Spears.

In 2006, he resurrected his career somewhat, after a dismal final season in Chicago, with a .757 OPS and 16 home runs. But in 2007, his OPS dropped by almost .070 pts and his home run totals were cut in half. By 2008, the Orioles had acquired Adam Jones and Patterson was a former Oriole on his way out of baseball. And after bouncing around with the Reds, Nationals and Brewers the last 2 seasons, he didn't have a job this spring.

Until the Orioles called.

Patterson has played well in Norfolk (.911 OPS in 62 plate appearances) and now finds himself as the Orioles lead-off hitter for the foreseeable future, since Brian Roberts was added to the 60-day DL today, meaning that his return in 2010 is well in doubt.

Hey, what else are you gonna do?

Adam Jones might find himself looking in the mirror when he looks at Patterson. At this point in Jones' disappointing career, he is basically a right handed version of Patterson: all promise, no production.

And maybe Corey can go up to Adam and say, "Take a good look at me, Adam. This is what you could turn into if you don't get your s--t together, and fast." Maybe Corey Patterson can scare Adam Jones straight.

Meanwhile in the 2010 Depressing Reminders Department, Nolan Reimold has been sent down to AAA Norfolk. And here why it is depressing: Reimold and Bergesen were arguably the Orioles' best players in '09 and were thought to be big contributors in '10. And yet both of them have struggled to the point of being sent down to AAA.

Reimold never broke out of his slow start to the season, and since it's May friggin' 12th, it's safe to stop calling it the "start of the season". Reimold's .639 OPS is a product of no power. He still has a good batter's eye, as evidenced by his OBP being almost .100 pts higher than his average, but he could probably use a week or two in Norfolk to get his s--t together. Last night he fumbled a weakly hit ground ball which allowed two runners to score and then walked into the dugout with his chin on his chest.

Awwwwww, poor Nolan!

Anyway, this move sucks for two reasons. First, it means that Reimold sucks. Secondly, it means that Lou Montanez and his .235 OPS is still in Baltimore. And, if ever there was a prospect who needed some time in Norfolk, it's Adam Jones.

In the end, it's much ado about nothing, because the Orioles are 9-23 and there is not a thing that Andy MacPhail can do to improve this team short of trading for Albert Pujols and six of his clones. He could fire Dave Trembley and Terry Crowley to make a statement, but it doesn't appear to be in his M.O. and if he would have fired Trembley, he probably would have done it by now.

So when you see Patterson batting lead-off tonight, you'll probably be able to squint your eyes enough and make it feel like 2006 all over again...those were the days, weren't they?

It was when we were still saying "2009 is OUR year!".

Silly 2006 Oriole fans. If you only knew what lay ahead.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Base: WTF???

The Orioles haven't gotten "decent" offensive production from the 1B position since 2001.

First base, along with LF and RF, are usually the positions that give you the most offensive production at the plate.

Well, when is the last time you looked at the production -- or lack thereof -- that the O's are getting from their 1B in 2010? Or any other year since 2001?

Currently, the O's 1B's have produced the following:

.233 AVG
4 2B
0 HR
10 RBI
5 BB
29 K
.264 OBP
.292 SLG
.556 OPS

The last time the Orioles have gotten an OPS above .850 from the 1B position was 2001. Remember those good old days when Jeff Conine was our 1B? Did you ever think that he would be the best Orioles 1B of the decade?

Well he was, as depressing as it may be.

As a matter of fact, the Orioles have been searching for their 1B heir apparent to Rafael Palmeiro since Raffy left in 1999. They even tried to reverse the curse of Raffy by resigning him in 2004, but that didn't work out to well. Raffy's production dropped off a cliff after he signed with Baltimore in 2004 and then there was the whole steroids scandal in 2005.

So what to do about 1B? You're guess is as good as mine.

I am still trying to figure out what the f--- MacPhail was thinking when he signed Garrett Atkins to play 1B, or why he signed a stop-gap in the first place to pave the way for Brandon Snyder, who struggled in AAA last year. He hasn't fared any better in Norfolk this year either. Snyder currently sitting at a .586 OPS in Norfolk.

Rhyne Hughes made us feel all warm and fuzzy when he first came up a few weeks ago because he got some hits right away, but he is 2 for his last 15 and was never going to be the savior of the organization. He was a desperate fix for the struggling offense since Hughes was lighting it up at Norfolk when the Orioles were struggling to score more than 1 run a game.

Aside from a struggling Snyder and Hughes, you're forced to play Atkins and hope that he somehow catches fire and starts hitting like it's 2006. I personally think there is a better chance Jesus Christ descends from the heavens and punches a homeless woman.

After the year is up, Rays' 1B, Carlos Pena, is a free agent, and there is little chance he will re-sign with Tampa. Boston needs a 1B, but chances are they will trade for Adrian Gonzalez at some point this season. So that leaves the Orioles and maybe a couple other teams in the race for Pena. And with Boston likely out of the Pena race, the Orioles chances of signing him are that much better.

But will Andy MacPhail pony up the cash for a player who is likely to give you 2-3 more years of plus production at 1B? I don't know...it does go against his track record though. Instead of signing Carlos Pena, MacPhail would rather find the next Carlos Pena. It's why he signed Atkins.

What I do know is that it is beyond horrendous that the Orioles have gone so long without good production from the most powerful position on the field.

If MacPhail does only one thing this offseason, it should be plugging the massive hole we STILL have at 1B.

O's split with Twins

¿Qué pensaba cuando firmé el contrato para jugar con los Orioles otra vez?

At least it started off well.

Too bad it ended the same way most series' have ended for the Orioles this year.

The Orioles won 2-0 on Thursday night, reaping the benefits of a Brad Bergesen start that could have been pulled from any of his better 2009 starts. He went 6.2 IP, allowed 6 hits and 2 walks. Bergesen got lucky at times, with his pitches occasionally getting up in the zone, but in the end, it was great to see Bergesen back to his old self. The only runs scored were on a Ty Wigginton 2-run homerun and the game saw the return of Koji Uehara, who looks great coming out of the bullpen. He still throws strikes and challenges hitters to put his pitches in play. Refreshing.

Friday night's game was rained out, meaning that the O's and Twins played a day/night doubleheader on Saturday and right off the bat, it looked like it was going to be a long day of Orioles baseball. The O's got behind the Twins quickly, with Jeremy Guthrie allowing a first inning HR to Justin Morneau. And with the O's facing LHP ace Francisco Liriano, the 2-0 lead seemed insurmountable.

But wait. The Orioles did what they never do: they hit well with runners in scoring position. They rallied back to beat Liriano and the Twins, 7-3. Guthrie got his first win of the season. And the Oriole bats looked like they had finally awakened.


In the next game, Scott Baker and his 5.35 ERA (at the start of the game) stifled the Oriole bats. Baker went 8 IP, allowed 3 hits and a Luke Scott homerun was the O's only run of the night. Kevin Millwood pitcher another solid game, going 7 IP, allowing 3 ER, but failed to get any run support. O's lose 6-1 and Millwood is still winless on the season despite a respectable 3.26 ERA on the season.

And on Sunday, with the O's having a good chance to take an impressive 3 out of 4 games from the Twins with Brian Matusz on the mound, the Orioles again, failed to score runs, losing 6-0. Brian Matusz was also roughed up, going only 3.2 IP and allowing 6 ER.

So, the Orioles return home to Baltimore after a dismal 2-5 road trip. Yes, they played the Yankees and the Twins. But they failed to score runs for the millionth time this season.

When are the bats going to heat up? I don't think they ever will. Maybe I am being a pessimist, but this offense is anemic. Even at their best they'd still be mediocre.

I'd say it's time to make a change at hitting coach, but that doesn't seem to be in Andy MacPhail's plans. He is holding hitters like Nolan Reimold and Adam Jones accountable for their struggles. And maybe that's the right thing to do. Maybe hitting coach Terry Crowley is still saying all the right things. But when you see the Seattle Mariners -- the only team in the AL with an offense worse than the Orioles (you read that right) -- fire their hitting coach, you start to wonder why the Orioles haven't done the same with Crowley.

Either way, the Orioles are 9-23, back to the season-high 14 games under .500.

They do, however, catch a "break" in the schedule department, with the Mariners, Indians and Royals coming to Baltimore for 8 straight games, before traveling to Texas for two, Washington for three, and then back home for three against Oakland.

So if the Orioles are ever going to close the gap on .500, now is the time.

But, with the Orioles having the worst record in the majors, you have to think that other teams -- no matter how bad -- look at the schedule and say the same thing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

O's swept by Yanks

And just think, 3 days ago O's fans were like "we swept the Red Sox...cool".

The O's are trailing the Yankees 6-1 in the 8th inning, but let's be real. The O's aren't coming back. They probably won't score another run, meaning they'll be swept and outscored in the series 16-3.

I am guessing that the O's ran into Boston during the right time. There is a reason the O's hadn't swept them at home since 1974.

And it doesn't get easier. The O's travel to Minnesota to play the Twins (18-9) for four games before getting an off day on Monday.

That off day will probably be the day when roster and coaching changes are finally made. Until then, there is not much reason to talk about the Orioles so I will end it here.

Oh, Ty Wigginton homered to make it 6-3. OK, so make it 16-6.

Monday, May 3, 2010

O's Sweep Red Sox

Ty Wigginton celebrates after his walk-off hit gave the O's the sweep over the Red Sox.

Yeah, you just read that right.

The Orioles completed the first 3-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox yesterday, winning 3-2 in 10 innings. The win came after a 5-4 10-inning win on Friday and a 12-9 slugfest on Saturday night.

It was the first 3-game sweep of the Red Sox since 1998 and the first sweep of the Sox in Baltimore since 1974 (!). Man...it feels good to say something like that after the start the Orioles have had this year doesn't it?

The Orioles are 7-18 and have won 5 of their last 7 games. And while a sweep of the Red Sox is just what the doctor ordered, we shouldn't stop taking our medicine just yet.

At 11-14, the Red Sox have gotten off to a slow start (for them -- O's fans would be ecstatic to have that record now) and look like a different team than the one that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007. Their offense, while still able to get on base (5th best in the AL), they don't have that Manny Ramirez presence in their line-up any longer. Plus, "Boston" and "good pitching" have been synonymous over the last 6 years -- and thus far, Boston's pitching ranks 12th in the AL. By comparison the O's are better, at 10th in the AL.

So, it's important to put this sweep into perspective. These are not the Red Sox of the mid-2000's. And while they should still end up a very good team that likely contend for the Wild Card, they just aren't playing very good baseball now.

But that's not to take anything away from the Orioles. Earning a sweep over any team right now is a major accomplishment, and the fact that it was against the Red Sox -- with thousands of Red Sox fans in the stands at Camden Yards -- makes it even sweeter.

That's not where the good news ends, either.

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis finally woke up and started producing like we thought they would. Jones went 7-14 in the series, raising his average to .241. Markakis also had 7 hits in the series and had 5 RBI in the 12-9 win on Saturday night. And Ty Wigginton, by far the Orioles best hitter right now (.329/8/15/1.157), hit 2 HR in the Saturday night win and had the walk-off hit yesterday in the 10th.

The pitching also came up big, at least in 2 of the 3 games. Luckily the offense picked up the pitching on Saturday when the Red Sox scored 9 runs. But David Hernandez continues to get the job done, although he doesn't go as deep into games as you would like to see. He pitched 5.1 IP on Friday night, allowing 2 ER with 5 BB and 3 K's. While he is walking a tightrope with the walks, he has managed to stay out of trouble and has a 4.55 ERA on the season. Not bad for a #5 starter.

But it was Kevin Millwood who turned in the series' most gutsy pitching performance, going 8 IP yesterday, allowing just 5 hits with 4 BB and 4 K's. Thankfully, the bullpen held up, with Will Ohman and Matt Albers each going a scoreless inning in relief, and Albers earning his second win in the series. This was a good week for Albers, since I thought he was a candidate to be released after some terrible performances against the Red Sox in Boston.

So where do the O's go from here? New York, actually, to take on the Yankees who just won 2 of 3 from the White Sox. And while I am very happy the O's just pulled off a sweep of the Red Sox, I am not ready to throw the team a parade just yet.

If the O's can keep the momentum going, and manage to take 2 of 3 from the Yanks, then I might be willing to do just that.

In the meantime my fingers are crossed.