While it’s not the choice of choice, there are benefits to watching a bad baseball team each night when you know going in your guys are bad:

A.) They’re bad; you know this, so there is no cause for anxiety or tension. Face it, when your team’s in a pennant race or in contention, the actual viewing experience is not always a pleasant one. Depending on the degree of high expectations you hold, you live and die on each pitch. The only easy and enjoyable part comes when the game is over and your team has won it.

When your team is bad, there is nothing to lose because they’ve already lost so much – they’re in a rebuild and they’re expected to lose. And they’re going to lose.

B.) You find out about new players and actually watch and better appreciate the beauty of the game, the symmetry of the game and the poetry of baseball and remind yourself what a blessing it is to us.

As Jimmy Dugan said, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it.”

It also helps you understand that not everybody should do it.

C.) You are calm, therefore you are not screaming at the television about the umpire’s strike zone or the hairbrained maneuvers of the manager. Hence, in your solemnity and concentration, you are better able to appreciate the quality – or lack thereof – of the broadcast.

I have said to my friend Billy Feeney on occasion, “There is no such thing as bad baseball,” referring to how hopeless and miserable we feel in the dead of a normal winter. Yet Mr. Feeney was correct in pointing out the 2018 Baltimore Orioles – a team that still thought it could contend, but merely went through the motions after manager Buck Showalter had lost the clubhouse the previous October in Toronto (can you say, now relieving in the 10th, Ubaldo Jimenez?). The baseball they played was bad because there were still expectations for them that lasted all the way to the second week of May before the tank began.

Here in Two Hours From Everywhere, we have three teams to follow every day and every night – the Orioles, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Nationals. The Orioles, of course, are in season three of a complete overhaul and rebuild, the likes of which has been proven to work for the Houston Astros (sans the cheating, of course).

The Pirates? I never know what the Pirates are and that has as much to do with my following the Orioles every day. As the greatest baseball writer I’ve ever read, the now retired Thomas Boswell, said, to follow the big picture of all the teams in the big leagues, it is most efficiently done through the viewfinder of following the day-to-day of a single team. The information you need about the other teams is somehow funneled to you through the reporting and the tempo you experience in following one team – the chatter and the conversation of baseball, the very lifeblood of the game.

I like the Pirates when I don’t think about 1971 and 1979, and I enjoy watching them when I can. But I follow the Orioles, so I don’t know if the Bucs are in the midst of a stated rebuild or if they’re just bad. Probably a little of both.

As for the Nationals, yes, they currently find themselves under .500, but they’re still within striking distance and I believe if the starting pitching gets healthy (Stephen Strasburg) they are a team that is poised to make a run in the second half.

As an All Things Baltimore guy, my feeling for the Nationals has always been, “Who invited them?” But general manager Mike Rizzo has built a first-rate organization, and a deep organization, which makes the Nats a team that is built for the 162-game season, not unlike the great teams in Baltimore and Atlanta years ago.

As for the current Orioles, who are very much unlike the great Baltimore teams of any vintage, here’s a tip for how to better enjoy watching them play: don’t get too attached. Most of them will not be in Baltimore for much longer because this rebuild is not about them, it’s not for them; it’s for the players who make up the Orioles’ minor league system and the new players the Orioles draft each year because general manager Mike Elias has a certain type of player, and a certain type of finance plan, in mind that he says will stock the Orioles system with as many talented players as his finance plan can pay for.

That way, when it is time for the free agents to leave Baltimore at the big-league level, an ample supply of talent will be stocked to replace them. You grow and replace from within because the Baltimore market is even more strained now that the Nationals occupy what were once the Orioles’ most lucrative markets.

Plus, you collect prospects to make trades with for when your big-league club has reached the point of being ready to contend.

When that will be, as we ask ourselves each night, is anybody’s guess.

Mike Burke writes about sports and a lot of other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital and also talks to Tony C. on The Morning Rush on 102.1 FM and AM 1230 WCMD. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT