James Baker: As fall slowly starts to arrive ...

As the rain continues to fall here in Charm City, it is hard to believe that the season is coming to an end. Some would say a merciful one. With the Ravens about to kick off the NFL season against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, the Orioles are about to be, once again, relegated to second-team status here in our fair community.

And they deserve to be. Getting two come-from-behind, extra-inning wins from the Yankees is great, watching Nick Markakis lay out Francisco Cervelli is awesome, but they are two wins that mean little if anything to the grand scheme of the season. The Orioles need only win a handful more to avoid the dreaded 100-loss season and I guess that is some sort of moral victory.

But you know what? I am sick of moral victories. The Orioles lead the universe in moral victories. I would like to see some genuine victories. I want to more of the victories that come when, in the ninth inning, you have a higher number in third box from the right than the other team.

The question I asked some fans at my local establishment yesterday evening was simple: "Why do you still watch?"

Morgan, the bartender was dumbstruck. It was as if he never really asked why he did it - he just did. He watched Orioles games because the people at the bar would ask them to be put on. When the patrons were asked this question they had the same blank look: Why do we watch?

The answer is simple really; there is something very wrong with us.

In the forums of Orioles Hangout, a poll was posted asking the question: "Do you have hope for the future?" At last check, the nos were outpacing the yes votes by a healthy clip. But the funny thing is this: Everyone that said no, or at least virtually everyone, will still watch these games and read the blogs and comment on the Web sites and buy the swag and do all the things that a fan will do no matter how bad this team gets.

Why do I watch? Why do I write? Do I have hope? I will always have hope, it's just my nature. Just as I believe that all people are inherently good, I believe that all teams have a sliver of hope. If they didn't, then there would be no drama, no fun, no reason to watch any sport. Without hope, all one would need to do is look at a spreadsheet to determine the winners of any game. Look at the Indians; they made no significant moves this past offseason and virtually everyone had them picked to fail, but they just played better. No apparent reason why, they just played better. Now I could be cynical and go through the arguments of division and money and the owner and all that tired jive, but the point remains: Why can't the Orioles just simply play better?

That is why I watch, because Markakis still feels the need to lower his shoulder and drive through Cervelli in a game that means nothing to Baltimore, save for pride. As long as that is the case, I will feel the need to sit and comment, watch and cheer. It's in my blood and even though this season has been an unmitigated disaster as fall begins to show itself in between the raindrops, my heart begins to sink because I know it is coming to an end.

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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