Friday, August 06, 2010

Suddenly, It's Fun to Be an Orioles' Fan

What was it that Yogi Berra was supposed to have once said? It was something like, "Baseball is 90% mental--the other half is physical." While it sounds comical, like most of the true Yogi-quotes, they all seem to make sense. That's how you can tell if Yogi really said it. Baseball is really a game inside the head. The pitcher is trying to mess with the mind of the batter and the batter is trying to understand the patterns. Teams that get on a roll simply believe that the other team can't beat them no matter what the scoreboard says. Teams that are playing badly are waiting for something bad to happen and it usually does. Somehow, the Baltimore Orioles have had a mind transplant since Buck Showalter took over and in less than a week, the manager has changed how the Orioles think. They won their fourth straight on Friday night and still haven't lost under Showalter.

Like the Fan has said before, too much is made of the manager when a team wins. It's the players that figure into the final score. It wasn't Girardi's fault that Cervelli dropped a stupid pop up for the Yankees to let the flood games open. At the same time, something is different about the way the Orioles are playing. Take Brad Bergesen. The young pitcher had given up 48 runs in his last 46.2 innings which is brutal. His ERA was up near seven. Under Showalter, he goes up against one of the hottest teams in baseball (the White Sox) and shuts them down for seven innings, giving up only one run on five hits, a walk and five strikeouts.

The Orioles have come from behind. They have held tough on low scoring games. They've gotten the big hit when they needed it. Koji Uehara has come out of nowhere and is throwing darts. Alfredo Simons has finished off games. These have all been typical games where the Orioles would lose and they are winning them.

Showalter's main task if he is to succeed is to turn around the regression occurring to all the young players who have been a part of this awful season. Markakis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Bergensen, Matusz and others all have shown talent in the past. All have whithered under the constant losing. Showalter has some leeway in that the Orioles aren't expected to contend right away. But if he can restore confidence to these young players where losing has beaten them down, then that's like getting a bunch of producted trade acquisitions.

Who knows how much credit Buck Showalter should get for this miraculous four game winning streak. The credit could just as easily go to Brian Roberts, whose return from the disabled list coincides with the win streak. But suddenly it's fun to root for the Orioles. Showalter, if nothing else, will restore the joy of playing for the Orioles. They will be more fundamentally sound and more disciplined in their approach. Showalter knows what he is doing. All of those things are exactly what the kids need to get to the next level in their careers. It's fun again in Baltimore

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

They have a lot of underachievers. Brian Matusz is supposed to be the next Cole Hamels. Wieters was one of the most hyped up catching prospects of all time. Adam Jones needs to be more selective. Tillman and Arrieta are big pitching prospects who haven't done much. Markakis is a solid player, but his power numbers are down. Still, he'll likely hit 50+ doubles and 15+ HRs. I think Jason Berken has found his niche in the bullpen.