Allegany Radio Corporation Sports
Break up the Birds, right? You can’t stop the Baltimore Orioles. You can only hope to contain them.
‘Dem ‘O’s, hon, won their second straight game on Thursday, beating the Los Angeles Angels, 13-1, on a hot, steamy Chesapeake Bay afternoon in front of a sparse, but comfortable New York Knights/The Natural kind of matinee crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in downtown Bawlmer.
It was the kind of dreamy game you always imagined attending as you were stuck in your fourth-grade science class with your transistor radio earplug stuck in your ear listening to that afternoon’s comfortable Orioles radio broadcast, while, at the same time, pretending to take notes for your semester science project.
One day, right?
Well, one day is here, and while the Orioles were The Best Damn Team in Baseball while some of us were in the fourth grade, they most certainly are not now. We have a lot of stuff going on here right now, so just follow along and ask questions at the end.
A.) The Orioles are dreadful.
B.) The Orioles were built to be dreadful … for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, this season and, perhaps, much of next season.
A.) The Orioles’ 13-1 win on Thursday came on the heels of their 10-6 win over the Angels on Wednesday, an exhilarating victory, filled with exhilarating moments on the field and exhilarating and enthusiastic behavior and support from the small, but spirited Orioles fan base.
Bawlmer, hon, does, after all, love an underdog; and they love any sports team – any sport – that represents and plays for Baltimore.
B.) The problem with Baltimore loving an underdog is, in this case, the current Orioles are a tremendous, almost hopeless, underdog with an MLB-worst 40-86 record entering the weekend. Their current two-game win streak put an end to a perfectly horrid 19-game losing streak, which gained much national attention and mockery and became a hot topic for baseball writers, the sports talking heads and fans in general as to the probability of the Orioles “tanking” the season as an organization as a means of corralling as many high draft picks as possible to continue the rebuild of their once barren farm system, which, this week, was rated the No. 1 farm system in all of baseball by Baseball America.
Of course the Orioles organization has been tanking seasons the last three seasons (2018 does not count – that one’s on Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter and, always, Peter Angelos. That was merely a team giving up after it realized it wasn’t good enough to contend).
Since Mike Elias came to Baltimore in the winter of 2019, he made it clear, this is what would happen, because, when he was the No. 2 man in the Houston Astros organization, they used the same system and methods to strip the major-league roster to the bone and start over.
Under Elias, it’s a complete rebuild: Collect talent, build a talent base, implement a system, pray at the altar of analytics, player evaluation and development, cut them loose to the big leagues like a swarm of bees and then use the money you don’t spend for three to four years to sign key free agents to get you over the top. Then, when they do, cut them loose.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Be self-sufficient. Build and replenish from within. Save money.
Sadly, it works. Witness the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs. Yet in the down times (and there are many), before and after, fans who are asked to spend big money on television rights and attending games get beat up. They get beat up a lot.
So do managers who are brought in to, on one measure, develop young talent; and on a larger measure, take the bullet because the young, inexperienced talent he is said to be developing, doesn’t have a popsicle’s chance in hell of staying in the big leagues more than one or two seasons.
These guys are shown the door when the show ponies are brought to the derby as thoroughbred colts. And the cycle begins …
That’s fine. Right or wrong, that’s the way it is these days (and not saying it’s wrong, but it sure as hell ain’t right).
But if Brandon Hyde is not permitted to manage the Baltimore Orioles once the thoroughbreds get to town, after all of the hell he has had to endure and take the bullet for the last three years …
That would be as wrong as wrong can be.
It would be an awful thing to do.
Mike Burke writes about sports and a lot of other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT