Neal Shaffer: Finding positives among O’s shortcomings

With last night’s loss, the Orioles are officially out of the 2013 playoff picture. Would it be wrong to call that a relief?

We’ve suspected this day was coming for a while. Last Friday’s epic 18-inning loss to the Rays basically sealed the deal. That game had all the markings of a last stand and the Orioles, to their credit, did what they do: They fought hard. They simply didn’t have an extra gear this time around.

To finally know that they won’t be revisiting the postseason is indeed something of a relief. Mostly because it should, one would hope, bring an end to the complaining.

That these Orioles came up short should do nothing to diminish their accomplishments. This was a winning team and a contending team. They had a good year.

If you take the pulse of Birdland, though, you might never know it.

I’ve been blown away over the past few weeks by just how hard it seems to be for many fans to accept things for what they are. Maybe my sample size is too small (social media, sports talk radio). But, wow, folks. Lighten up.

Do you really think one playoff season entitles a team to an endless string of playoff seasons? Do you really believe it’s easy? Have you forgotten what it’s like to root for a team that actually sucks?

We all have high standards for the teams we follow. We want them to be champions every year. That’s part of being a fan. But something weirder and more sinister seems to happen here in Baltimore. Some fans seem to enjoy complaining about the losing more than they enjoy the winning.

Maybe it’s a lingering form of Stockholm Syndrome. Maybe it’s just that the Internet brings out the worst in people and that’s what I’m seeing too much of.

Whatever it is: stop. Step back. Get your head right.

The Orioles were a national laughingstock for more than a decade. They were losers for 14 years. They were everything you don’t want your favorite team to be.

They are not that anymore.

Take a look at the 2003 roster. Really savor it for a moment. Then think about how much better things are, finally, today.

Yes, this season has been less than what we hoped it would be. Yes, they took a small step backward. And, yes, they have holes to fill. We don’t need to, and shouldn’t want to, gloss over any of that. The facts are important.

Then let’s remember as well that other facts, the good ones, are equally important.

The year Chris Davis had. The continued emergence of Chris Tillman. Adam Jones.

Meaningful baseball deep into September.

There are two basic ways to acknowledge a shortcoming. One is to stew on it, let it eat you up. The other is to parse it out, find the positives, and move on.

Up to you, of course, but only one of these paths actually goes anywhere.

Neal Shaffer regularly blogs about the Orioles at The Loss Column, and his work appears here as part of’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 but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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