The Orioles have a big problem, and it doesn't necessarily have to do with the skill set (or lackthereof) on the field. Sure there are some legitimate criticisms you could make there, however that isn't my point. I remember my late grandfather always saying that history is always written by the victors. This is true in all things; including sports and history. If we look through the great moments in sports, what we generally fail to see is the fact that for every victory there's also a loser. We remember Bobby Thompson's "shot heard 'round the world; what we don't remember is that a Brooklyn Dodger pitcher gave it up. We remember Marcus Allen's romp in Super Bowl 18; what we don't remember is the fact that the Washington Redskins were perhaps the best team in the league that year. The list goes on. Ultimately if you're in the business of sports, you want to be the one that's creating the moment as opposed to the one that suffers the expense of having it created.
Last night's 9-8 loss to Anaheim appeared to be the upteenth time this season and in recent years that the Orioles were on the "wrong side" of that moment. It isn't so much that they lost in walkoff fashion; teams win and lose in that fashion all the time and it's part of the game. However the issue in this case was that the Orioles actually created a moment in the top of the 12th when Adam Jones sent a two-out single into right field that scored two runs and broke a 6-6 tie. However that was turned around on the Orioles real quick when Kevin Gregg promptly gave those runs back in the last of the inning, and Bobby Abreu's sac fly scored the winning run. For those of you who are like me and tweet back and forth with people during the games, you know that anytime the O's have a lead people are already wondering how they're going to blow it. How many times have we seen this in the past few seasons? Remember the Mother's Day Massacre in Boston back in 2007? The O's blew a 5-1 lead and lost in walkoff fashion to the Red Sox. Since then it seems that the same story has unfolded time after time after time. Even in times when they've failed to allow the opposition all the way back, the Orioles make things interesting. Last Sunday the entered the 9th inning with an 8-1 lead over Detroit; they won it 8-5. The game ended with the go-ahead run being at the plate.
This isn't to say that the Orioles can't create "moments" for themselves on occasion. However it seems that they're the victims of them much more often than they're the victors. So...is there some sort of hidden problem in the clubhouse? Perhaps some version of Family Feud within the team itself? By all accounts that's most certainly not the case. Before the season I read that over last off season several players (including Adam Jones) went through Europe together among other things. This is not to say that everything behind the doors is rosy 100% of the time, however I don't think that guys are at each other's throats by any means. However there's certainly a looseness on other teams which is visibly absent on the Orioles. (I would say that Adam Jones is one of the exceptions to that, as he's about as clutch as you can get.) Some people would argue that the stiffness is due in part to the losing. That would then lead to one of those what comes first, the chicken or the egg debates...
...as for me, I'm not sure what I believe. Coming from a blue collar Italian/American family, I always kind of resented people who seemed to have things come to them easy. I further resented people that had things come to them easy and would then turn around and flaunt it. However, other teams seem to make things look so simple when they come up against the Orioles. On one hand you can certainly say that the O's hung in for twelve tough innings against a contending team. However moral victories don't mean much in sports anymore. Or do they? Is that attitude perhaps part of the problem right there? I've scoffed for years at the likes of Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz who seem to get excited and emotional at small things such as a homer in a game. I've always said that I much more respect the Orioles manner of doing things in which they kind of put their heads down and play. A homer is just one highlight in a game; that game itself is only one out of 162. Celebrate when you win a title or make the playoffs, not after a homer or worse yet a hit. But maybe somewhere along the way that's exactly the modus operandi that the Orioles have lost. I agree with MASN's Dave Johnson who's said time and time again that baseball is a man's game. For me personally, I expect men to act like men as opposed to children. However again, is it that childlike "innocence" that's been lost on these Birds?
I suppose what I'm saying is that there's something wrong with the Birds, and I think it goes beyond the quality of the players on the field. The O's wouldn't even think that it would be possible to come back trailing 8-1 in the ninth. Heck, if a team put two runs across in the top of an extra inning, the O's probably would assume that the game was over. I'm not suggesting that I think it's reasonable to assume you'll always be able to come back in every situation, because you're in for some cavernous lows if you beieve that. However sometimes that little bit of looseness as opposed to being trapped in the normal doldrums of professionalism are exactly what propels teams to be able to do amazing things. The Washington Nationals entered the 9th inning Friday night down 4-2; Ryan Zimmerman ended up hitting a walkoff grand slam. His teammates mobbed him at home plate fror quite awhile. I couldn't help but thing that had this been an Oriole while he would have been mobbed at the plate, it wouldn't have lasted long because they would have had to get back in the clubhouse and get home for the night. Then again, perhaps it's that attitude that wouldn't have allowed the O's to create the moment in the first place.