Neal Shaffer: Confidence colors perspective as 2013 unfolds

Last Friday night, Adam Jones dropped an easy fly ball. He dropped that fly ball and it basically cost the Orioles a game against the hated Yankees. How did you feel when it happened?

Did you think, “So it goes. Errors are part of the game, even for a player as good as Jones.” Or did you find a more sinister angle? Did you think, “Why did he have to blow a bubble? Doesn’t he know we need every out we can get? We can’t afford to make mistakes like that!”

It’s not that these are the only two possible reactions, but they are more or less representative of a spectrum’s dueling ends. Where your reaction fell on that spectrum has something to do with a larger issue: confidence.

In this team, in Buck Showalter, in these players. As the 2013 season unfolds, we have a choice to make. Do we think this group is over the hump, or do we think they’re secretly (or not so secretly) still in over their heads, poised for a massive comedown?

The jury is out on the facts in that we won’t know the real answer for some time. What we have until then is how we feel, and how we feel impacts our perception.

Baseball is no different from anything else in that absence of fear amplifies enjoyment, and vice versa. If we’re not afraid that these guys are secretly no good, then we’re going to accept failure for what it is - part of the game. If, on the other hand, we’re waiting for another shoe to drop, we’re probably not going to truly believe in the successes and probably not going to truly enjoy them. We’re going to see every shortcoming as a harbinger of doom, every error as the tip of an iceberg.

The game being as long-form and as complicated as it is, pretty much everything comes with a “Yes, but ...” You can frame that any way you’d like.

Jake Arrieta got a win? Yes, but he only went five innings.

The team won a lot of one-run games last year? Yes, but they can’t possibly do that again.

Chris Davis is mashing? Yes, but they’re not getting any production out of the DH spot.

You can make any positive a negative. Or you can say: Adam Jones made a costly error? Yes, but he’s a hell of a player and one reason this team is well on its way to big things.

It’s a long season, and these guys know what they’re doing. Dig in and enjoy.

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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