Neal Shaffer: Don't reset your expectations, resolve to abandon them entirely

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking.

-- From "Hagakure"

If nothing else this season, the Orioles have succeeded at keeping us on the edge. They have been like the summer weather in which they play, at turns stifling, troubling, exciting, and wonderful. Always unpredictable.

Back in my first guest blog in this space, I suggested the "No expectations, just baseball" mantra for watching the O's in 2012. It hasn't gained much traction, nor did I expect it to. The point, however, is even more relevant now than it was back in April.

I said then, when we expected a dreadful season, that the best way to approach these O's was to enjoy the game, win or lose. Then they started winning. Then they started losing. Now, they're on the verge of a vintage-style collapse.

To constantly reset expectations based on these swings is to deny the fundamental truth of baseball, which is that over the haul of 162 games every team eventually becomes what it is.

I'm no more convinced, now, that the sky is falling than I was convinced during the hot start that this team would challenge the Yankees. If anything I'm still more optimistic than I was. Mostly, though, I'm fascinated by the prospect of finding out what they can manage to pull off over these final two months.

How many wins will they ultimately author? Just how good of a season can Adam Jones have? Who among this grab bag of pitchers might emerge as a steadfast option for 2013, if any of them? Will we see a big trade, and if so will Dan Duquette be thinking "win now"?

On and on. Mounting losses are troubling, but each still only counts as one game. And regardless of whether or not such losses become the new (old) normal, this is a fascinating team. Don't let the collapse - if it comes - cause you to lose sight of that. Times are better today in Birdland than they've been in quite some time. Relax, and enjoy.

Neal Shaffer regularly blogs about the Orioles at The Loss Column, and his work appears here as part of MASNsports.com's initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. 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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