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.
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?