It’s been going on all season, pretty much. Maybe not a lot during the first month, but full-swing since sometime in May. If you’re on Twitter or you listen to sports talk radio, you know it. You might even be guilty yourself.
“It,” of course, is complaining.
We’re no stranger to complaining here in Baltimore. Prior to last year, we endured a solid decade of nothing but (we had 14 total years of losing, sure, but it took time for the pattern to settle in).
This was not without reason. Those years gave us a lot to complain about. But I fear they may have also established a habit.
When things go bad for a long time, a sad and funny thing happens: the negative state takes on a life of its own. It becomes not a circumstance, not a passing thing, but rather a resident. We start to think of it as normal. When it becomes normal we settle in and wait for what it will do to us next.
Then, eventually, nothing “bad” has to happen at all. We start making it happen on our own.
Take, for example, the game against the Astros last Thursday (which, by the way, was a win). I got into a friendly debate via Twitter about the value of Nick Markakis. My opponent’s point? That Markakis makes too much money to be slugging .385.
Sure, that’s a low number. But it seems borderline crazy to question Nick’s value to this team because of his salary.
This was a friendly discussion, but it reveals a concern. Even after a solid year of the Orioles not sucking, it is clear that many, many fans still can’t shake the losing mindset.
They have a prisoner’s mentality despite the pardon. They’re waiting for something bad to come around the corner and, if it doesn’t come, they go running around looking for it.
During the losing years I spent a lot of time over at my site, The Loss Column, imploring people to shake off negativity and just enjoy the baseball experience. Spend some time at the yard, have some food and/or a beer, soak up the atmosphere, and root for the hometown nine on a game-by-game basis.
I thought then that I was offering up a road map for dealing with tough times. The message, however, might be even more important today.
If you look at the present state of the Orioles and think, “Sure, they’re OK, but...” instead of, “Damn if it isn’t nice to be in a playoff race in August for the second year in a row,” then I’m going to come out and say it: there’s something wrong with your outlook.
Have you already forgotten how bad things used to be? Have your standards shifted so far in a year that hovering around 10 games above .500 is somehow a problem?
This team is in the early stages of being good again. They’re not perfect by any means, but they’re no longer bad and that’s a huge step forward. This was a long time coming. It’d be a shame not to enjoy it.
Neal Shaffer regularly blogs about the Orioles at The Loss Column, and his work appears here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long 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.