James Baker: On the Orioles and optimism

Optimism is the belief that generally good things happen. It is the tendency to see the good in all things, the belief that good will triumph over evil and that this is the best of all possible worlds. If this is all true, then I ask “Why the Baltimore Orioles?”

Over the last month, the Orioles have fallen apart in a way I didn’t think was possible. Not the fact that they have lost so many games, or that the starting pitching has collapsed, or the hitting went away - all of that was extremely possible. What is seemingly impossible about the 2012 version of the Orioles’ summer sputter is that they are not out of the race yet. Moreover, they are right in the thick of it. Despite all of the hair-pulling frustration this team has generated recently, there is still a reason for optimism.

General Manager Dan Duquette seems to think so as well. “Our future is now,” he opined earlier this week. Despite fans and pundits burying this team one pile of dirt at a time, Duquette, at least, appears to remain resolute in his conviction that this team can win now. The Orioles’ name keeps popping up in trade discussions and the team is giving every indication that they are doing all they can to work out some kind of deal that will make the current team better. Duquette still believes the Orioles are buyers.

And why not?

When was the last time the Orioles were a half-game out of the wild card spot this late in the season? The American League is tremendously weird this year. The Yankees can’t seem to lose a game, the Rangers and Angels are sleepwalking to playoff spots in the West, and no one in the rest of the American League seems to want to win more than three games in a row. If this is truly the best of all possible worlds, then it seems the universe is bending over backward to hand the Orioles a playoff chance. But they can’t seem to step up and take it!

This is usually the part where the sports blogger goes on a tangent about what the Orioles need to do to get back to winning. But I am so tired of writing that. We all are. Readers, we all know what needs to happen: The starting pitching needs to be stabilized, J.J. Hardy needs to find his stroke again, the bullpen needs reinforcements, etc. It is the same story that I have been writing for the past seven years.

What is different, however, is the world in which the Orioles are playing. The AL East is very un-beastly this year and the Central is its usual collection of underwhelming teams in the third- through fifth-place positions. So despite the Orioles’ continued struggles, they are still in this race, along with eight other American League teams within two games of the wild card spot.

And, yes, even now there is still a reason for optimism.

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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