2016 Orioles: MLB's version of learning to drive stick shift - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

2016 Orioles: MLB’s version of learning to drive stick shift

If you’ve read my previous work, here or at The Baltimore Sun, over the years, you know I’m very clear that there is a very distinct line between being a fan and a being a writer who covers a pro team.

I grew up an Orioles fan, and that experience allows me to have some historical perspective.

But now I am a sportswriter, and I’m charged to look at the Orioles without any emotion. I try to look at all situations and figure out why and what’s next instead of lamenting what just happened.

All that mumbo jumbo aside, let me just say to the fans of the 2016 Orioles: I feel for ya, people.

This isn’t a buckle-up rollercoaster, it’s a free-falling, bungee-cord-may-or-may-not-work season. Seatbelts aren’t necessary. Everyone already has whiplash.

Let’s just do a quick recap. I’ll wait until you get your Dramamine. Make it a double dose.

OK, so the Orioles started this year 7-0. They won seven straight in May and seven straight in June, too. And followed that last burst by losing five consecutive.

From that point, July 5, forward, the Orioles – get ready for this – won six of seven, lost four in a row, won five, lost five, won five of seven, lost three consecutive, won three of four, lost five of six, won three straight and have now lost their last three.

It’s the baseball equivalent of a 16-year-old learning to drive stick shift.

They start, they stop. They cruise, they idle. They have it figured out, stall at a light and then get it going just as the season is about to turn red.

Here we are, it’s Aug. 28 and the Orioles are 70-59. They are still very much in the playoff hunt. They control their own destiny. Maybe. Sort of. I don’t know.

It’s hard to imagine this team, with its shaky starting pitching, key injuries, all-or-nothing offense and oil-leaking bullpen, is going to trip through the finish line ahead of the needed number of squads to make the postseason.

And if they do, somehow, make the playoffs, they surely can’t go very far with all their flaws. Unless, of course, they just outslug everyone and string together a few quality starts handed to a healthy trio of Brad Brach, Darren O’Day and Zach Britton.

After these last two weeks, losing series to Oakland, Boston, Houston and the New York Yankees, it’s hard to imagine that these Orioles are good enough to beat quality teams.

That is, of course, if you forget that this month they’ve also won series against the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants, and taken three of four from the Washington Nationals. Three of those four teams were in first place when the Orioles beat them.

Yeah, it can’t be easy being an Orioles’ fan these days.

But, man, it’s no bed of roses trying to make sense of it all as a sportswriter, either.




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