Young O’s Need to Learn to Win

The Orioles are going to have to figure out how to win some of these close games.

I’m a bit worried the young players are missing out on the opportunity to learn how to win. It’s easier said than done, but they have to learn the value of finding ways to come up with that big hit, key play or put-away pitch.

The ability to win the close ones separates the winning teams from the losing teams. It really is a skill that good teams and good players have. Unfortunately for the Orioles there’s nobody to teach that skill.

There aren’t a large number of long tenured veterans on the team anymore, and the ones currently on the roster like Brian Roberts are great players who want to win, but who have never been on a winning team in their careers.

After watching a young Indians team beat the O’s Thursday in a come from behind win, I was convinced--youth is not an excuse to lose. Cleveland is just as young as the O’s and they have been finding ways to win since the All-Star break.

‘Learn how to win’ - it’s a phrase we hear all the time in baseball and no one knows exactly how to teach a group of young players to do that. I asked Dave Trembley today how a team can learn to win.

He said you look at teams that win and see what they do right. Most of the time it’s playing fundamentally sound and playing team ball.

Trembley pointed to Thursday’s Athletics-Angels game. The Angels were down two runs with two outs in the ninth. Torii Hunter got on base with a bunt single. He did it so the tying run could come to the plate in the form of the Halos’ best hitter, Vladimir Guerrero. That’s playing to win the game.

(For the record, Guerrero grounded out to second base to end the game--Angels lose.)

Still, you get the point.

Young players need to learn to think like Hunter did. He didn’t go up there and try to crush the ball; he thought about what he had to do to put the team in a position to win. In that particular case it was get on base for Guerrero.

Trembley said sometimes young players don’t get that. They think they have to do too much rather than just play team ball. That’s not how you win games.

The last thing the Orioles want is for losing to become normal to their group of young players. A couple ‘W’s’ down the stretch here would be huge for their development.