James Baker: With calvary struggling mightily, better play needs to ride to O's rescue

Good morning, Birdland!

As some of you may know, if you keep a calendar, my name is James Baker and I write primarily for Oriole Post. Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com asked the new guest bloggers to give a little intro of ourselves and our blogging history for this introductory post, so without further ado, I present "A Brief History of an Orioles Blogger: James C. Baker."

I grew up in the wilds of Harford County, but never was the city far from my life. Both my parents were from the city proper and both grew up O's fans. I attended college at Towson University, where I graduated with a degree in history. It was in college, with the independence and modest disposable cash that came with it, that I truly began to go crazy with the Orioles stuff.

It was the spring of 2005. I know we all remember it well. The Orioles were in first place and it looked as though the team had finally turned that perpetual corner. Then, well, the summer of 2005 happened - we don't need to go into that here. It was during that time that I was first noticed by The Baltimore Sun for the very large orange-and-black "Believe" sign I carried with me from game to game. People began to recognize me at the ballpark and the blogger in me was born. My first attempt at a blog/ t-shirt combination was The Baltimore Flock, also featured in The Sun. A couple hundred t-shirts and another failed season later, I graduated school and had to enter the real world.

I began writing for Oriole Magic on one of the many incarnations of the MVN network of sites. That was my first collaboration with Anthony Amobi, whose guest blog you followed for the first half of the year. When Oriole Magic went down I jumped over to Anthony's wildly successful Oriole Post. I have made appearances on local radio stations and taken part in a couple national Internet webcasts.

I began writing about the Orioles because, well, they are a very large part of my life. That sounds really weird, in a way, but they are. My summers growing up revolved around the handful of times I would get to go to Memorial Stadium or Camden Yards. One of my earliest memories is one of my father and me riding through Waverly looking for a parking spot on our way to Memorial Stadium where I would later ask him, "Why everyone was booing Randy Milligan?" When I first met the woman that would become my fiancée I invited her to opening day. I love the city; I am currently a high school social sciences teacher for the Baltimore Public School System, I live here and my life is here. So the Orioles have always represented something good about my life, a source of pride and happiness. A two-hour layover on a warm summer night, where real-world concerns can take a back seat for a change and all I need to concentrate on is how many people will join me in a Hagy-style community spelling-bee.

So that is why I write. I'm no good at fiction and the Orioles always give me something to talk about - even if it is trying to express how badly they're doing without resulting to four-letter words.

Speaking of which, the Orioles are now embarking on the second half of the season and they have a lot of work to do. The team finished the 2010 season with such a large amount of goodwill and momentum among fans and media alike. The nice start only built on those feeling, but in the last month or so, the Orioles have seen that all evaporate away. In the local establishments I frequent the regulars all ask me, "What is wrong with the Orioles." And right now, I have no idea what to tell them. The cavalry, the group of young pitchers that the Orioles brought up over the last two seasons, have all struggled to varying degrees and nothing seems to be going right. The Orioles need to simply play better baseball in the second half. There is no other way to say it.

Yes, Jeremy Guthrie should be shopped around and perhaps even J.J. Hardy, but I don't see the team making an Erik Bedard-like trade in July that will show instantaneous results on the field. The starting rotation is in shambles and the season truly begins and ends there. Yes, Mark Reynolds is making too many errors, and, yes, Brian Roberts not being in the lineup hurts drastically, but it all comes back to the ineffectiveness of the young starters. And until those pitchers start performing at a level that resembles what we all assumed they could, it will continue to be another long, hot summer here in Baltimore.

James Baker blogs about the Orioles at Oriole Post. His observations about the O's appear as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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