I’ll be heading to M&T Bank Stadium in a few minutes to shed my sportswriter inhibitions and behave like a fan.
That means sitting in the stands, yelling my lungs out and hitting the concessions. And yes, standing in line at the urinals, rocking back and forth from one foot to the other, wishing the guy in front of me hadn’t downed 12 beers before deciding to break the seal.
It isn’t all fun and games.
I’ll check the blog later, of course, but you’ll have to forgive me for straying from my laptop for a few hours. I’m not taking it with me. I’m trusting that the Orioles won’t make any announcements while I’m gone, though I won’t be far from the MASN WebStudio on the fifth floor of the warehouse if there’s a blogging emergency.
If it can happen during the Christmas party, it can happen at any time.
The final weeks of the season bring scouts to the ballpark like ants to a picnic, or Sidney Ponson to another Cheesecake Factory grand opening (again, I’ve lost count.) I took advantage of the situation by chatting up a few of them and asking their opinion of the Orioles over the final two months.
Here’s one scout’s take:
“First of all, the starting pitching has been incredible, and when you have starting pitching like that, everything looks great. It hasn’t been like the offense has exploded or anything like that. The starting pitching has really stepped up. And that’s the bottom line right away. When you have that kind of starting pitching, you’re in every game. And I think that the pitching is here. These are the guys we’ve been talking about. They’re starting to get experience and are stepping up.
“And if you really want to get to the beginning of it, Buck (Showalter) has had a big-time influence in everything. It’s not serendipity that his arrival and the team’s success...you can say, yeah, they’re healthier, they got the second baseman back, the left fielder back, a couple bullpen pieces, etc. That’s true. The timing was good. But I think Buck has turned the attitude. There’s not a lot of difference between winning and losing. It’s a fine line, and I think the whole attitude, the intensity and the focus, has improved and it impacted everything.
“The pitching, all of a sudden these guys went out there and they’re more aggressive. They’re pounding the strike zone more, and they have good stuff. Anyone who’s seen them come through the system - Arrieta, Matusz and Bergesen - I mean, these guys are legit guys. These guys aren’t like flashes in the pan. They’re legit guys. And Guthrie, too. He’s a great leader, and you have all the young guys who are going to be there.
“I think going forward, the starting staff is there. I think the bullpen has issues, but bullpens are always like that from year to year. But it hasn’t been taxed.”
I’ll pass along more later, including the scout’s take on Adam Jones.
I’m taking the Ravens -7, so expect a close game. Probably a field goal at the end. That’s the way my luck has been running.