Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy 20th, Orioles!

Nick Markakis has taken it upon himself to become an outspoken leader.

Each time the O's win, I am like Alan from The Hangover when he is giving his speech on the roof of the hotel. "Wait a minute...could it be?" I am renewed with the hope that a well-placed win could somehow spark this team into going on a decent run that makes us temporarily forget that they are the worst team in baseball.

And while watching most of last night's 11-6 win against the Florida Marlins (the O's 20th win of the season), I had those some pesky feelings again.

For one, it looks like the bats are finally starting to heat up. The Orioles have scored 4 or more runs in their last 5 games. Nothing to write home about, but when this team has regularly scratched and clawed its way to score just one run, the O's scoring 4 runs should be viewed as an offensive explosion.

Speaking of offensive explosions, the Orioles finally had one last night. In the third inning, while trailing 3-0, the Orioles did the unthinkable: they rattled off 6 hits in a row and scored 5 runs in one inning.

And they weren't finished! Usually, when the O's explode for a few runs in an inning, they go back on autopilot, and fail to score any more during the game. But last night they scored a run in each of the final 4 innings, and stopped any hopes of a Marlins comeback.

Miguel Tejada ended his epic streak of at-bats without a HR, hitting a 3-run dinger last night. he went 4 for 5 with 4 RBI. And Adam Jones, who has been on fire of late, went 3 for 5 last night with a solo HR.

Add to that, Felix Pie, who had been the O's best hitter when he went on the DL in April, should be rejoining the team shortly along with Brad Bergesen and Koji Uehara. So at least the O's will be getting some reinforcements, and it will hopefully be sending useless players such as Garrett Atkins, Lou Montanez and Frank Mata on their way out.

The pitching could use those reinforcements, too. The O's team ERA has risen above 5. Earlier in the year, as the O's offense flailed away at the plate, the pitching was at least respectable. But that is no longer the case. In the last two weeks, the O's team ERA is a stomach-turning 6.30.

So, if the O's are ever going to turn the corner on these dismal first 72 games, they are going to need drastic improvements from BOTH the offense and the pitching.

It's not just the offense that's the problem any more.


Perhaps the most encouraging thing from yesterday was that Nick Markakis met with Peter Angelos to discuss the current state of the team. You might remember Markakis being critical of his teammates last week when he spoke to the Sun about different players having poor approaches at the plate.

And at first look, you might think that Angelos called the meeting with Markakis to give him the "what for". But it turns out that it was Markakis who called the meeting with Angelos. And that to me, is great news.

Markakis is by far the team's best player and until recently, has been a reserved player who expresses little or no emotion on the field. But in the last week, Nick has proven that he is the leader of the Orioles, and I commend him for wanting to speak to Angelos. Markakis will be an Oriole for the next 5 years and it's got to be killing him to see this team get worse and worse year after year.

Hopefully, Markakis was able to talk some sense into Angelos. It may be the only hope we, as Orioles fans, have left.

And finally, it was announced today that Buck Showalter is the leading candidate for the Orioles managerial job. That is also good news. However, Eric Wedge will get a second interview, so it may still be wide open at this point.

I would like to see Showalter become the O's next manager. He has helped built three different organizations (Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers) into winners and hopefully he would be able to do the same here.

Wedge wouldn't be a disaster, but he oversaw a young and talented Indians team fail to live up to their hype. And unlike Showalter, he lacks the seasoned experience that Andy MacPhail is looking for in a manager for the Orioles.

So. Are things getting better? Not exactly. Apparently there is still a lot of turmoil behind the scenes at the warehouse and Tony Pente of Orioles Hangout is currently working on what could be an epic expose of the Orioles organization.

But until then, I'd like to think that the Orioles are slowly taking some steps to bury the 2010 season before it's even at the halfway mark.

No comments: