Tap-In Question: Is this season really harder for fans than the Dark Years of 1998-2011? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: Is this season really harder for fans than the Dark Years of 1998-2011?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

I’ll be honest. The barkeep is stumped.

And I don’t mean about the Orioles; I’ve given up trying to figure them out.

I’m stumped about what to write. It seems that every angle has been covered two or three times. It’s now just following along with the Orioles’ cycle of winning then losing; not pitching then not hitting.

It’s been that type of season.

But I guess what I’m most stumped about is a sentiment that has been written, tweeted, emailed or said to me multiple times in the past few weeks.

Orioles fans are telling me this is the hardest season they’ve had to endure, at least post-1988.

Really?

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I’m not sure I buy that. In fact, I don’t.

Yes, it’s been a frustrating year for all involved. And, yes, the root of that frustration is the starting pitching, which we all knew last October had the potential to be terrible, and no true improvements were made. (The counter here, of course, is who were the Orioles going to get this offseason, considering they didn’t have major prospects to use as trade bait and it was a depleted, free-agent pitching class?)

But I’m thinking this is one of those in-the-moment exasperations, and not fully based in reality.

I’ve covered this team since 2001. It didn’t win more than it lost until 2012. By the last month of the season during most of those years, the Orioles were so far out of playoff contention that there was no such thing as a meaningful September game. Who am I kidding? During those years, there were no meaningful August games, few meaningful July games.

Remember, I’m a guy that once covered a club that lost 32 of 36 to end the season. I saw 30 of those games live. I’m still scarred.

So, to me, this is a rough season because of what it could have been. But it’s not anywhere close to what those Dark Years were like, at least from my standpoint. Back then, I didn’t know what to write for weeks at a time.

And, though I know making the playoffs isn’t good enough, it has happened around here three times in the previous five seasons while the Orioles have had the best record in the American League during that span. The postseason drought before this lasted 14 seasons.

Again, though, I’m not a fan. So, enlighten me: Is this really the worst season of your fandom?

Have you been spoiled by the recent solid run? Has the inconsistency by a team with a Top 10 payroll – after all those years of complaining about how the Orioles didn’t spend – just worn you out? Is it simply a case that a bad stretch always seems worse as you’re going through it?

Or do we all simply like to complain more these days without thinking it through?

Tap-In Question: Is this season really harder for fans than the Dark Years?

72 Comments

72 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 12, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Heck no it’s not nearly as bad as the dark years. Certainly the pain we feel today is greater than those day simply because we have some winning expectations from this group of players and the management. But would we really trade that pain for the numbed indifference of the Aughts? Some around here say that nothing short of a World Series is acceptable, and while that WOULD be nice, I can’t subscribe to that. Give me a team that can at least compete. How many of us watched 90% of the games or even cared at all during those ‘dark years’? THAT my friends, would have been painful.

    I find it interesting that I can remember the names of hundreds of non-descript Orioles from the 70s, 80s, and 90s … and yet I’ll bet you Dan, that you can name a hundred from 2000 to 2011 that escape my memory altogether. We have a good lineup, a good manager, a few pitchers and it’s fun to watch this team on a daily basis. It’s baseball and next spring is just around the corner. Give me Gausman, Bundy, Tillman and a few tweaks … we’re right back in it.

    It does hurt, but I’ll take the pain of today vs. the indifference of the dark years any day.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 11:47 am

      That’s the sentiment I was expecting. And not just from you. Drink chip.

  2. Fergy015

    September 12, 2017 at 7:33 am

    This season has been a frustrating one for sure. The starting pitching besides Bundy and Gausman when he was on has been a nightmare. I was first to say it was Buck leaving the pitcher into long or the pitching coach not being the right fit. I even said DD didn’t have the capability of signing a quality or trading for a quality pitcher. I think the Orioles should try to pull scouts from other organizations and get rid of a majority of the ones they have. Look at Tampa they continue to develop pitching within and we continue to barely be able to develop a handful. Someone needs to tell Chris Davis and Trumbo that strikeouts matter. Maybe they should look at Mancini videos of making contact. No way is this like the dark days but as an Orioles fan we deserve better

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 11:48 am

      One of my pet peeves is the Tampa Bay Rays keep drafting and developing great starting pitching. I don’t buy that anymore. But otherwise I’m with ya.

  3. Osfan73

    September 12, 2017 at 8:15 am

    The dark years, sounds like a term of reference to Star Wars lol. Anyway……those dark years were harder to take than this season because IMO hopelessness pervaded every aspect of the team. I don’t sense nor do I feel that way myself about this team. Right now it’s all about frustration with underachievement. Unlike those years there has been more stability in certain areas like the back of the pen-Britton, Oday, Givens,Brach. And some of our younger guys are contributing more early on-Schoop, Mancini, Machado with Hays and Sisco on the immediate horizon. I don’t remember that being the case back then….the bullpen was like a revolving door of free agents, position players out of the minors sort of didn’t pan out with any consistency and the only two who could be counted on consistently were Mora and B.Roberts for the most part far as the lineup went. Also didn’t have a manager with Buck’s pedigree. There’s at least a window of hope with this group, just have to get the pitching right, hopefully, this offseason.

    • Bancells Moustache

      September 12, 2017 at 10:21 am

      “For over several generations, the Orioles were the defenders of pennants and glory in the American League. Before the dark times. Before the Angelos…”

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Hahahaha. Drink chip

  4. TxBirdFan

    September 12, 2017 at 8:34 am

    No way is this year harder than the dark years. Those days were so frustrating because we knew we didn’t stand a whisper of a chance and we knew it early. This year is frustrating because we have a chance but just can’t get past that next bad start, or from giving up 5+ runs most games. It’s been a roller coaster, but its actually been a fun ride.

    By the way, if you listen closely you can hear the fat lady warming up.

  5. Orial

    September 12, 2017 at 8:45 am

    I think one of the reasons for such vehement frustration is the social media which gives us all a chance to be “know it alls” and argue with each other. Frustration also comes from knowing where the weaknesses are(pitching,corner OF) and not addressing it(Seth Smith is decent but a plodder). The deterioration of Davis lies atop my list of frustration. Normally someone performing like him would be benched but I worry that his contract will have him in the batting for years to come. So yes this is a very frustrating season maybe even more so than the “Dark Ages” because they’re so close talent wise.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Excellent point about social media. I could turn off talk radio. Now these people come to me directly. Drink chip.

  6. OsFanStuckInNY

    September 12, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I’ve enjoyed watching Mancini’s unexpected excellence, Schoop’s breakout year, and Bundy’s progress. Beckham and the August Assault by the offense were a joy to behold. 7-game won streak? Who ever would have expected that this year?

    As for the rest of the team and year, uh…not so much.
    I think Manny is the poster boy for the 2017 O’s — flashes of brilliance that we have come to expect all the time, interspersed with an alarming number of errors and 1/2 season of mediocre results.

    The Dark Ages were always about hope for the future. These past couple of seasons have been frustrations over the mediocre SPs and big swingers who apparently do not have the ability to get a well-timed single the opposite way.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Yeah and that hope for the future was rarely based in an abundance of talent. Just in hope.

  7. GSISDANNO

    September 12, 2017 at 9:14 am

    This is absolutely better. This team frustrated us for most of the season but it also entertained us. When you look at some of the team numbers, it is amazing that they have done as well as they have. Their .316 on base percentage is horrendous and ranks 24th in baseball. They just don’t draw many walks and their knowledge of the strike zone is very shaky. The Orioles are 29th in MLB with 349 walks. Only the Royals have fewer walks. In fact, 27 of the 30 MLB teams have at least 400 walks. At the same time, the Orioles are fifth in MLB with a .265 batting average and second in the majors with 219 home runs. That shows that they are not getting enough runs when they get hits and home runs.
    But, the Orioles’ offense should be good enough to win. The pitching has been in steady decline since 2014. I know Jimenez was a mistake but that will happen. The Orioles’ inability to develop pitchers through their farm system is a glaring problem. Since Mike Mussina joined the team, the Orioles have developed very few good starting pitchers. At this point, Gausman and Bundy are two of their best (Tillman came from Seattle).
    In fact, the Orioles have used first round picks on pitchers 14 times since 1999. Brian Matusz, Gausman and Bundy are the only ones who have made an impact in the majors.
    In reality, the Orioles are very fortunate to have been as successful as they’ve been.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      That’s a fair statement — and a well researched one.

  8. c Soprano

    September 12, 2017 at 9:22 am

    “the root of that frustration is the starting pitching”

    The root of the frustration is we are ran badly. #1, the GM shouldn’t be reporting to the manager #2 Do we even have an analytics department? If we do, they need to update their forecast models. We paid top dollar for two guys who have a skill set that isn’t valued very high by basically rest of the entire league. #3 STOP signing 30+ year olds to multi-year deals, period. #4 Failure to extend Manny and subsequently not trade him will loom large for our next stretch in prison. #5 We value 5th slot too highly. Ok, so if we get 5th slot this year? Isn’t it obvious there are 6-8 teams far superior to us? Not worth blowing up the future. The Warehouse should have realized this last winter and moved ZB, Manny, and AJ to start a reboot.

    Well I could go on and on but I have to get ready for work.

    Dan, how about this for a piece: What are the realistic options for the O’s with 5 years to go and 125 ish to CD?
    *(Assuming my wish is granted and we are put up for sale to an owner that believes in setting up an operations system that is efficient and innovative, basically not anything that resembling the garbage we have now ).

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Too much to cover here in one basic response. They do have an analytics department and a team economist. Not sure how all of the dynamics work there. But they are in place. And as for signing 30-year-old free agents. Well, most free agents are 30-plus. Fairly rare when a 26-yo gets to that point. That’s why Manny/Harper are such interesting case studies. So you cut out the 30yo and you cut out 90 percent of FAs. Nelson Cruz, for instance, was 33.

  9. Birdman

    September 12, 2017 at 9:39 am

    At least there was a reasonable hope that this year’s team had the talent to make the post-season, and had Tillman and Gausman actually performed anywhere close to expectation, they almost surely would have been a wild card and maybe contended for the division. By contrast, the “dark years” teams were a rag-tag bunch that never gave fans any real hope, which I think is even harder for fans to take.

    As for the Orioles being a “Top 10 payroll” team, its certainly frustrating to see how little value they have gotten for those dollars. The Orioles four highest paid players for 2017 are Davis, Jones, Hardy, and Ubaldo. Of those four, only one, Jones, has had a productive season.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      Yep. You can make the argument about spending money wisely. But the argument of not spending doesn’t hold.

  10. Bancells Moustache

    September 12, 2017 at 9:47 am

    No, not worse. Disappointing yes, but at least we can follow the team through the season as opposed to getting excited for opening day then waiting for Ravens mini-camp to start.

    Let’s be honest here, we’re being jerked around by MLB, their television overlords and sponsors. If this second wild-card wasn’t invented for the sole purpose of keeping eyes glued to the TV through football season, we would have long accepted that the Orioles are a mediocre, possibly even bad team this year and just enjoyed Mancini and Bundy’s ascendance. Think about who the below .500 Orioles, who are supposed to be a contender but cannot beat a last place team in a must win series, are competing with here: the Minnesota Twins? The Texas Rangers? the California Angels of Los Angeles in Anaheim of Orange County USA or whatever Wally Joyner’s old team is called? Really? These are all dull, uninspiring, middle of the road teams who aren’t contenders but play one on TV. I don’t take issue with MLB instituting the extra wild card game, it was a good entertainment and marketing decision, but that doesn’t negate the fact that often times there won’t be 5 teams worthy of being in the postseason.

    • Bancells Moustache

      September 12, 2017 at 9:58 am

      And before anyone broadsides me with the Wild Card teams win the World Series argument, if you go back and look at those 6 teams you will see that 4 of those teams had the 2d or 3d best regular season record in their respective leagues, the only exceptions being the 2011 Cardinals, a perennial winning machine during those years, and the 14 Giants, playing in their 3d Series in 5 years and riding on the back of Bumgarner’s super hero turn that fall.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 12, 2017 at 10:32 am

        But it’s FUN to still have a chance/fantasy BanMo!

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      And don’t forget the Royals who slipped in on the final day in 2014 and then made it the WS to lose to the WC Giants.

  11. sjm5131

    September 12, 2017 at 9:57 am

    This season is without a doubt tougher to handle than the “dark ages” or “lost years” of 1998-2011. The reason is simple: hope, or lack thereof.

    During those lean years, O’s fans could always hope that one day the pieces would all be in place. A few shrewd trades and signings, coupled with the emergence of a generational talent from the farm and things would be different. I was always hopeful of this during September of those years, that maybe one of the late season callups would be part of the next great Orioles team.

    Since then we’ve made a few shrewd trades and signings that have given us a number of All-Star caliber players, and against all odds our farm system produced a generational player in Machado… And we’ve won exactly as many rings as the team did from 1998-2011.

    Making matters worse is that the end of this run is imminent. We have one year of Machado left, and it appears that this organization has squandered 6 years of one of the great talents in the game. As you’ve noted, Dan, the Orioles don’t have the wherewithal to go out and acquire established starting pitching, so what hope is there for next year?

    The Orioles haven’t been able to surround Manny Machado with a championship caliber team, and yet there doesn’t seem to be a consensus that he should be traded.

    What all of this means is that we can expect the 2018 Orioles to be much like the 2017 version (perhaps a bit better or worse) and that we have to brace ourselves for a 2019 without Machado, Jones, Buck, a championship… and perhaps even without the much needed prospects that Machado would bring back in a trade.

    That harsh reality makes every loss tougher to stomach, because this might be as good as it gets, and that feeling is something I never experienced from 1998-2011.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      That’s an interesting perspective SJ. Never really that deeply about it. But, you are right: No guarantee this isn’t as good as it gets around here.

  12. pedro

    September 12, 2017 at 11:17 am

    The Dark Days sucked. The Orioles lost an entire generation. My 26 year old has too many memories of sitting in Camden Yards, losing 12-1 in the 4th inning, asking if we can leave now. It was death. Once again, I am proud to be an Os fan. Not always the case.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      That’s kind of what I was getting at, or at least what I had assumed from this vantage point.

  13. garyintheloo

    September 12, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I was just numbed by the Dark Years and fortunately the St. Louis Cardinals had good years. The real Dark Year was 1988 as the Os even were booed on the road. I still seek light at the end of the tunnel and the best years were 1989, 2012 and 2014. This is frustrating because all the national naysayers who couldn’t explain how the Orioles do so well get to gloat and castigate. Sort of like a nagging wife who is right.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Hahahaha. I’m giving you a drink chip. But don’t tell my wife I found this analogy funny.

  14. Os_Skins

    September 12, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Agree in large part with SJM…

    The fact that this question is even posed, and we don’t all laugh at it, is really a testament to what Buck has done here. If this was 2012, gosh, we’d all be through the roof and thrilled to just have semi-meaningful baseball into September. However, over the last 6 seasons, our expectations have been raised and we expect a lot more than we did when Buck took over for the father of Samuel Samuel (top five all-time greatest names) in 2010.

    Is this as bad as sitting there in late June just waiting for training camp to start so something else could take our attention? Nah. Is, it, though, more frustrating? Yeah, absolutely. This team has its weaknesses and those are no secret – starting pitching and strikeouts/lack of patience at the plate. It has been that way for some time now, so it is frustrating for fans to sit here and watch those needs go virtually unaddressed. It leaves the feeling that opportunity is being wasted and that this window is closing. Schoop and Manny are elite talents, and Jones is a great leader who I hope never puts on another uniform, (unless it’s USA again!) but free agency looms for all three. Buck has made chicken salad all year with this team, and you get the feeling his days in the dugout aren’t all that far from being numbered (not this offseason, but I’m not sure he’s got a rebuild in him). On top of that the Sox and Yanks have young talent for days and will likely have the means to keep them together, means we have less hope.

    The truth is, right now is not nearly as bad as the dark years…but knowing we aren’t all that far away from slipping back into those years is making it close, and why this season has been particularly hard for those of us watching closely.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Very well articulated. Drink chip. Course, you are a Skins fan, too, you’ve had extra practice writing this.

      • Os_Skins

        September 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm

        Oh to be born directly between Baltimore and Washington in the summer of 1984. There’s a lost generation of us who grew up in that time with mixed city allegiances in our sports teams. There was no joy for us in January 2001…or February 2013.

        Luckily, as I’ve grown older my loyal sports fandom has rewarded me with the two best owners in sports…

  15. Davelsfp

    September 12, 2017 at 11:28 am

    This is nowhere near the dark period. In those days the O’s were out of contention before summer even began. At Artscape every year there were zero O’s caps, all Yankees and Ravens. It was absolutely horrible. The year before the 2012 season there was a brand new O’s hoody at a rummage sale at a church in Catonsville which cost less than the rags they were selling. That same year my wife said to me, as I was telling her how this was the year that Buck turned things around, “why do you do this to yourself? Every year they let you down by the 4th of July!” Of course the O’s DID turn it around that summer. Look, we went longer between O’s winning seasons than we did without an NFL team. People at work gave me shit for being an O’s fan. Guys I used to have partial ticket plans with stopped caring AT ALL. It was almost a decade and a half of NASCAR, golf, and waiting for the Ravens. It SUCKED! The O’s are frustrating right now but they’re far from the national embarrassment they used to be. They were even worse. They were inconsequential.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Yes. They were. Drink chip.

  16. ATCguy

    September 12, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Worse? Probably not… but as others have stated, when there are unfulfilled expectations, there are greater disappointments.

    The real problem as I see it is the simple “evolution of the game” itself… and by extension, how the League handles those changes (or, in my opinion, has not). This post is going to go off-topic, but here goes…

    Today’s game has become all about mercenaries… plain & simple. As a union guy, I’m all for free agency, and the ability of a player to be compensated as well as the market allows. But there’s the rub: the market.

    MLB has allowed the market to be controlled by big-city teams, and the whole team-owned TV-franchise element has hurt far more than it’s helped. The owners in those high-market cities then dictate the going price for everyone else… and smaller market teams have to either step up & pay, or be content to maybe have a contender if fortune & circumstance fall their way.

    I’ve said it many times… to the owners, baseball is simply a business. Sure they wanna win, but they wanna make a profit even more. And you can’t blame the Angelos family for that. Would YOU pay out these guaranteed player salaries being that are standard today… all based on PRIOR performance, and what you HOPE the player will do for you? It’s ridiculous.

    All one has to do is look to the NFL for team parity. Is it perfect.. of course not. But could you imagine if the NFL allowed teams to exclusively own the rights to broadcast their own games, and rake in the lion’s share of profit from said games? As I understand it, all NFL TV-rights money is distributed equally among teams (I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong), so no one team earns more than the other, regardless of market size and/or population. And the NFL has a REAL salary cap. No fake line set where a team can exceed it and simply pay a ‘luxury tax’ fine.

    If each MLB team had a REAL salary cap placed on them… players’ salaries would still be as high as they are now, but the game would be much different.

    Like I said… i know it’s off topic. 🙂

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      It is off topic. And it’s sensible. And it’ll never happen. The union won’t allow it. And the union is too strong now. I can’t imagine I’ll live to see a salary cap in baseball.

    • bigdaddydk

      September 21, 2017 at 9:56 am

      For me, here is where a lot of the frustration is. The Angelos family seems content to be competitive, but not a true contender. Mediocrity will keep you interested most of the season. This one has been a good example where we’re enthralled by the idea of meaningful baseball in September, even though making the post-season was not likely. As long as the team gets to September with “a chance” there’s not much reason for them to seek to make significant improvements via wise trades or FA. They’re going to be profitable, and the bottom line is what matters. I suspect that upper management will do just enough to keep the team around .500, with the hope of making an occasional run at it. Keep us within 10 games of first place by September 1 or 5 games out of the WC by then, and we’ll tune in to see if our dreams will come true.

  17. JParsley

    September 12, 2017 at 11:48 am

    no way is this worse. I was a die hard fan during the late 80-90s. I watched the Os some in the early 2000 , but they got so bad and sit was so disappointing that I could not bare to watch. I honestly didn’t think it would ever get better as long as we had the same owner. all the GM’s and second rate managers we had never given me any hope. at least now there’s hope.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      I don’t think spending has ever been the real issue. To me, it’s always been spending wisely. But I know so many people want someone to blame. And sometimes it’s real hard to defend.

    • JParsley

      September 12, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      I don’t really agree with that. the Orioles have never put any significant money into starting pitching. which I know can always be risky. also I have always heard stories of the owner not letting deals get done. Let the GM do his job. And yes spending wisely is the way to do it, if you’re allowed to spend at all

  18. DutchDinger

    September 12, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Yes

  19. general81

    September 12, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Not to waffle, but I would say yes and no. No because any competitive year is better than abject failure. Even if we don’t make the postseason this year, we were competitive for darn near the entire season. I’ll take an 82-80 record and in the hunt until the end over 60-102 anytime.

    Yes because I really thought we were ready to step up this year. Gausman and Bundy as 1-2, Tillman keeping a steady hand, Jiminez and/or Miley settling in … plus the same strong defense and a powerful offense – that’s what I expected.

    And I’ll add one more emotion: Unease. THAT is what I feel going into the off-season. There is just so much unknown – what will become of Brach, Britton, Jones, and (gulp) Machado? Not to mention Schoop? I dream of a press conference in which we have re-signed the latter two to 10-year contracts worth a total of $750 million, but I don’t think it will really happen.

    So – better than the losing years, worse than I expected, and borderline dread come November.

    • douglasmintz

      September 12, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      The dread is probably a key component driving this displeasure with 2017. I think the team has already begun preparing to move on from Manny. But I expect them to push hard to sign Schoop — a care of Schoop, Mancini, Beckham, with another couple years of Jones, rising years from Sisco and Hays (we hope) and ahem — declining years — from Davis makes for a respectable foundation for the next few years on offense.

      Pitching will continue to be the wild card though

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I certainly get the dread of which you two speak. And I understand it is likely warranted.

    • Steve Cockey

      September 12, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Agreed that the foundation for a respectable offense is potentially there for the next 3-5 years, Douglas. Even post-Manny. Now, respectable startup pitching? That’s another animal.

      It’s gonna be really interesting to see how the 3 rotation spots are filled next year, much less adding better depth behind Gausman (a pretty poor 2017) and Bundy (potentially more of an injury risk than most).

  20. douglasmintz

    September 12, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Other than the month of June i’ve actually enjoyed this year. Ultimately it will go down as a very frustrating one– but that’s a lot better than ignoring the team for a 10 year stretch. Gausman’s failure to step forward and Tillman’s step back doomed the season — but it shouldn’t have come to that. The front office left the team undermanned in January and not surprisingly that came home to roost in June.

    In the meantime we’ve enjoyed Mancini and Schoop, Jones’ continued excellence and leadership, Manny’s defense (and second half offense) and the continued positive energy from the team. The pie situation is the first outward evidence we’ve seen of any real friction among the players over the five year run — which makes it easy to root for them. And Buck may have his moments, but as fans we are fortunate to have him.

    So anyone who thinks this is worse than circa 2008 either was not old enough to remember the dark years or really has a faulty memory.

    • Os_Skins

      September 12, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      To this note…anyone else notice that the 7 game win streak included the reappearance of pies…then they were once again banned and mediocrity set back in? Just saying…

      Any clue which players this is coming from? I can say the ones who look the least happy to get it are Bundy and Trumbo (nothing better than Trumbo’s looks when Kim used to throw seeds in his face…)

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Yeah. I’m not sure the pie thing really is affecting the play. :). But I get your point.

      • douglasmintz

        September 12, 2017 at 2:17 pm

        I’m pretty sure there’s no causation here. But again it is the first outward signs I can think of that there is any discord internally since Buck arrived. Dan you’re on the ground so maybe you’ve seen stuff we wouldn’t see.

  21. Creatively_19

    September 12, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I certainly can’t say it’s been the hardest to watch. The O’s have legit stars and good pitching that make some of the 2000s teams the Orioles fielded just look silly. However as you’ve covered time and time again it is one of the most FRUSTRATING teams to watch, in that we all expected much better from the hitting, and KNEW the pitching was a hole that never got filled.

    In the 2000s, we knew that the Yankees and Red Sox had the pitching to silence our bats, and that their hitters would be launching balls onto the flag court. You knew when David Ortiz or Alex Rodriguez came to bat, bad things were going to happen for the Orioles more times than not. You knew CC Sabathia and Pedro Martinez and just about every pitcher the AL East threw up against us had a legit chance of a no-hitter on any given night.

    What makes the 2017 Orioles so frustrating is that rookies who could barely hold their own in AAA somehow look like Cy Young when they face the Orioles who muster absolutely nothing. The absolute inconsistency of what should be a talented rotation of Tillman, Gausman, and Bundy, with the grab bag thrown in of Miley and Ubaldo that you never know what you’re going to get from them. Watching the pitchers the O’s gave up in recent years for rentals having the same or better results than our pitchers. It has been so very frustrating to watch, knowing that we were on the precipice of greatness to start this season but fell flat in May and never recovered.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      I get it. I’m really not sure how the pitching woes should have been fixed. But that really is the difference between this and what could have been.

  22. Craig417

    September 12, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Harder from the point that there was a false sense of progress from the past couple of years. Tired of being the bridesmaid and not the bride. Tired of believing that the team was better than it really was each year. Tired of the spurts that was followed by the collapse that always followed. Tired of being teased and taunted each year. Tired of seeing good hitting by the birds go for naught by really poor pitching by a really poor starting pitching staff. Tired of seeing pitching coaches change each year. It is like dealing with a consultant when they tell you how much better things are going to be but it never quite gets there.

    Yes, I think it is much harder for the real fans.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      I’m not sure, though, that it was false progress. They were in the doorstep of the WS in 2014. Only four teams were remaining. That’s kinda real.

    • Craig417

      September 12, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Always the optimist but this ain’t horseshoes

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      I’m actually never the optimist. Like to call myself a realist. I get pessimist a lot, especially from my wife and kids. Listen, winning the WS is the goal. Less than that breeds disappointment. I get it. Understandable. But the reality is this team was in the Final Four within the last three years. And that is an accomplishment, albeit not the goal.

      • JCO

        September 13, 2017 at 8:51 am

        Dan, I’m a realist, too. My thinking on this season is this…

        – The O’s are a .500 team with a good bullpen, terrible starting pitching, and a Jeckyl and Hyde offense. Not really a playoff team. Even if they’d get in, no way I’d want to go to war with a starting rotation featuring a good but young guy, two big disappointments, a bad free-agent pickup at the end of his line, and another “eh” starting pitcher trade pickup. Oh and Wade Miley.
        – Most of the time if a team looks like it just ain’t got it, it ain’t got it. Magic and surprises are unusual, which is why they’re magic and surprises, and so enjoyable in sports.
        – If anyone disagrees with the previous point, that’s likely because nobody remembers the majority of time when hopes get dashed. Doesn’t mean it’s not fun to watch.
        – Davis’ shadow over this team continues to grow. Three of his last four seasons have featured a sub-800 OPS. That’s unacceptable for a slugger making 23M. I know this horse has been beaten to full tenderization, but Davis just seemed as lost this year as he did in 2014, with similar production. His salary makes it pretty hard to sign the two Orioles who basically tried their best this month to lug this team into the wild card, Machado and Schoop. Let’s face it, Buck had to drop him to 7th because he made the cleanup spot a black hole.
        – This team really was the real deal in 2014 (four starters with ERAs under 4.00!). But their pitching went way south.
        – Finally, this is going to be an interesting off-season as far as what the Orioles will do. I often wonder if the second wild-card slot ends up harming teams in the long run because it allows teams to rationalize and not make some hard choices.

  23. Mr Will

    September 12, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    I watched Christian Walker pinch hit for Rockies last night….in Pacific League Triple A he hit over 300, 32 homes and 115 rbi…but Norfolk where he did far less is a far cry from RENO where he played this year…so far 0 for 3 in majors.
    Major problem for Os is Chris Davis…a major problem Where was Buck last night putting Trumbo in right and Smith DH…Os got what they deserved there.
    Mountcastle moved to third tells you Os want to trade Manny this winter for at least 3-4 good players/prospects.
    Britton would also bring a nice return.,,,made things easy for you DD.
    DD should sigh Scoop to 10 year deal
    Catching with or without Castillo is okay; if Castillo stays use Sisco as trade chip.
    Yes, Sisco, Santander and Hays need to play as Os should be eliminated by Sunday.
    As I always say, the consistent inconsistency of the offense is a strange malady
    Sorry season is ending…have to find new things to complain about
    Mr Will

    • Craig417

      September 12, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      I think you are on the right track. This town can afford multiple superstars. Trade for young talent and let Buck wind them up……

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      Only major comment here is that Mountcastle was coming off SS no matter who is at 3B

  24. Ezrine Tire Award

    September 12, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Hell no. All I want year in year out is competitive, winning baseball although it would be nice to get to the WS more than once every 35 years.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Sure. That particular drought is both unfortunate and unacceptable.

  25. Teejay

    September 12, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Dan, I remember having a conversation with a fellow fan (much younger than I am) and he said to me about 10 years ago “Wouldn’t it be cool to just be playing meaningful games around Labor Day?” For the last 6 years we’ve been fortunate enough to do that. I was spoiled growing up in the ’60’s and ’70’s and early ’80’s because I thought Oriole pennant races was a natural way of life. Now with the way this team is playing I just don’t see the O’s making the playoffs, but hey, it’s September 12th and we’re 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot so tonight is a “meaningful” game!

    I’m sorry but it was was hard for me to get excited 10 years ago to see Dave Trembley give John Leicester (and no offense to John, I’m sure he’s a fine person and more talent in baseball than I’ll ever dream of having) a spot start to see if he could help the club next year.

    In short I’ll take this aggravation over the Dark Years in a millisecond, how many fanbases wish they were in our shoes on Sept. 12th?

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      It was definitely dark in those ages.

  26. Steve Cockey

    September 12, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I’ll take a .500 team over 14-straight losing seasons every time. The question that remains for me: have the Orioles sacrificed too much of the future over the last 6 seasons to remain competitive but not great? Time will tell.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 12, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      My buddy Steve and I disagree on what “talent” was given up. Otherwise, I get it. Competitive but not great gets old.

    • Steve Cockey

      September 13, 2017 at 11:51 am

      I don’t think we’re that far apart :). The problem for me isn’t the “talent” that was given up. Far from it. It’s that the alternative, expensive “talent” that was chosen on the SP end isn’t any better than what was surrendered. And you can make an argument that it’s worse. If that’s the case, I’d rather see them hold what they have and give some of those guys extended opportunities versus making moves for veterans, just for the sake of making them.

  27. Ben1

    September 12, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    It has been worse because there were low expectations in those years. We fans knew we didnt have good starting pitching this year but thought Os would win 10 to 8, 9 to 6, and 12 to 10. Turned out lots of money given to Davis and Trumbo took away their drive. League learned to hit ODay and Brach, Britton got hurt, and opposing pitchers took advantage of agressive hitters.

  28. Ed-dieEd-die

    September 12, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Dan, longtime reader (here and at the Sun), first-time commenter. And I’ve been an O’s fan my entire life but I’ll be honest, I’ve tuned out this year. There’s a spark missing from this year’s team — it’s hard to articulate but I don’t feel the urgency from this team that I have from the others since Buck took over. I went down to spring training in February and from then to now, it’s never felt like this team was playing to win the World Series. Playing for a one-and-done Wild Card so we can say we technically “made” the playoffs? Maybe. But it’s felt like the team knew from the start that it couldn’t realistically compete and that was that.

    Serious question, when Camden Yards was being designed do you think the front office at the time thought about the long-term ramifications of building such a difficult park to pitch in, or was it just all about the home runs because fans love homers and if we hit a bunch they’ll come pay to see us play? You ask about the dark years and I wonder now about previous GMs who said they felt like they were offering free agents Confederate money to play in Baltimore — how much of that was about the park (for the pitchers at least) vs. guys just not wanting to play for what was always considered a severely mismanaged team?

    Because 10-15 years after Pat Gillick (or whoever it was) made that Confederate money comment, we still can’t sign a decent pitcher and we’ve shown time after time that we can’t develop one internally either. Hopefully that is changing with Bundy, but literally the drought for a quality pitcher we’ve developed in-house goes back to Mussina and there’s no way we can even dream of competing with a track record like that.

    While Angelos has finally shown that he’s willing to spend money, far too much of it has been spent on home run guys and the Orioles have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt over the last few years that all the home runs in the world won’t win you a championship.

    I never really answered your question, though. They both hurt pretty bad. And like others, I don’t see next year being much different, which already hurts, too.

    • Mau

      September 13, 2017 at 12:49 am

      Next year can be different if they can address the SP issues and bring in hitters who can slug, not sluggers who can’t hit. DD has to make some moves with his trade chips to do that.

  29. madki003

    September 13, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Dan,
    I grew up watching the Orioles lose…literally I fell in love with them the moment I knew what baseball was and they were losers. Angelos let Mussina walk, we had a good 2 year run with 96&97 and i was about 8 and 9 during those years and that was the only winning I have ever known until 2012 and until now.

    There is absolutely NO WAY this year is tougher than the absolutely pathetic stretch from 98-2011. If people say otherwise, They tuned into the Orioles in 2012 and watched that Cinderella season and became avid fans then. I do not blame them for not being fans during the down DECADE, its hard to watch a team and owner who did not care – BUT again, to say this 2017 is worse than 14 years of not-relevant baseball is literally ABSURD.

    Do we even remember some of the rosters we put out and called the Orioles a major league team? Sidney Ponson was our opening day STARTER, Jay Gibbons was our best hitter some years, Luis Matos, Jose Mercedes , Sammy Sosa 5 years past his prime, Larry Bigbie, Cabrera, Penn, Cordova, Singleton, 80 year old Pat Hengton, etc. Consistently able to get guys past their prime was about it to get some people in the park.

    Bright light through those years? Melvin Mora and Tejada really the best parts.

    Definately some rambling here, but, absolutely no way this compares to those years. We fell short of expectations this year when we knew it would be a struggle – pretty much it.

  30. 1roberts

    September 13, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Personally I think 2011 was worse. You had the expectations of Buck’s first full year as manager and the momentum of a winning second half in 2010. Then the starting pitching faltered much like this year. Then on top of the losing year we found out Mike Flanagan passed away which was a heartbreaking end to a losing year. Just when you think there was a light at the end of the tunnel it was a freight train coming our way. Okay I borrowed the lyrics from a Metallica song but it fits perfectly as an Orioles fan!

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