Maybe it is a real thing about baseball fans, particularly Orioles fans. Can there be rebuilding fatigue?
Can the losses mount so much that fans just get worn out by rebuilding? And while they may understand it is needed and could very well lead to better days, the patience to get to those better days starts to wear thin?
It is probably only natural.
But Orioles fans are a pretty loyal group. We see that in so many coming to this website day after day after day. Fans still watching and listening to broadcasts in good numbers. Fans still reading and watching anything and everything about their Orioles. We see it even when those O’s fans are mad that their team is losing and they vent. Venting is much preferred to apathy. Many still remain hopeful despite a lot of losses.
The Orioles lost for 14 straight seasons from 1998 through 2011 and then drew nearly 2.5 million when they won the American League East in 2014.
So maybe if you (re)build it, people will come (back).
The Orioles have had only five 100-loss seasons in club history, and three have come in the last three full seasons, starting in 2018.
It can feel to some fans like they have been rebuilding forever when they have not been doing that. They entered the 2018 season trying to make one last playoff push and extend the run of winning that resumed with the 2012 season and American League wild card appearance that year. But instead, 2018 ended with 115 losses and big changes in the dugout and front office.
Mike Elias’ first season as the Orioles executive vice president and general manager was 2019. So he and his staff have been here for three years, but one of those seasons lasted just 60 games and included no minor league season. When we see, for instance, how quickly players like Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Stowers moved this year on the farm, how far would these 2019 draft picks be now had they had a full 2020 season of games? How further along would the rebuild be?
So the rebuilding also encountered a pandemic and 60-game major league season. No games for the minor leaguers in 2020 and less time to evaluate those at the big league level.
Elias and his staff have been here for three seasons, but not three full seasons and only for two minor league years. So, while it can feel like they have been rebuilding forever, they have not.
Fans are still restless for more wins and understandably so. Should the O’s brass pour some significant money into next year’s team in an attempt to avoid 100 losses? Well, avoiding triple digits is not a very lofty goal and there are seldom short-term goals sought in a long-term rebuild.
Having said that, a 2022 team that trends up in the win column would probably be uplifting to the fan base. And maybe even encouraging to the organization. But as noted many times, rebuilding does not always progress in a linear fashion. It’s not a straight line that trends up from the bottom to the top.
So if the 2022 Orioles go 68-94, that would be a 16-win improvement over this year. Would that mean the darkest days are over and the rebuilding in now heading in the right direction?
Or maybe it’s the gains made this year on the farm and earning No. 1 and No. 2 organizational rankings that truly mean the rebuild is heading the right way.
Of course, I’m asking questions that lead us to opinions and who knows if they have a right answer.
When will the rebuilding be over? I say when the Orioles are a playoff contender, a team that can win, say, 90 or more games. Would 68 wins next year be a big step in the right direction? Maybe. Is the improved farm really the important big step? Maybe.
Good questions all. Without a right or wrong answer.