You know how there's some people that just always seem to win no matter what they do? If you're saying that those people don't seem to ever have to struggle at anything, I totally agree. I suspect that the Orioles probably see organizations such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in that light. Nevertheless, my point is that it seems that whatever some organizations touch turns to gold, and what others touch turns to stone. Take Bartolo Colon, who beat the Orioles in today's afternoon frame for example. Colon had played several seasons with the Angels (and one with Boston and the White Sox) before sitting out last season. Earlier this year I teased a NY fan that I know because the fact that the Yankees were using Bartolo Colon in their rotation meant they were desperate. Looks like the joke was on me, as it usually seems to be. While at 7-6 Colon is hardly an all-star, however his 3.29 ERA is the lowest that he's had since 2002 when he was traded from the Indians to the Expos. Many of his seven wins have been fairly big wins against key opponents, and his WHIP is lower than it's been since 2005.
Matt Albers played with the Orioles the past few seasons, and most Oriole fans were happy when he left. Not only did the Orioles release him, but Boston picked him up. Many fans and analysts saw this as subraction by addition with regard to a division rival. Again, the joke was on us because Albers is having a great season. On the flip side, the O's traded David Hernandez to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Mark Reynolds this past off seaseon. As we all know Reynolds had a slow start at the plate, but he does currently lead the team in HR's (including his homer this afternoon). However his shaddy defense has probably cost the Orioles as many games as his bat has helped them win. 2004 was statistically Reynolds' worst year in the field when he had a .904 fielding percentage with 34 errors at third base. This season thus far he's fielding .903 and has 21 errors. Not only that, but does one not think that the Orioles couldn't use Hernandez's arm at this point? Derrek Lee is currently hitting .246; the last time he hit under .250 was in 2002 when he was with the Marlins. Vlad Guerrero is hitting .277, which would be his worst average since his rookie year.
I've never bought into the whole thing about a culture of losing surrounding a team and so forth, and I still don't. However I have to wonder if there isn't some sort of moxie that teams such as NY and Boston have which the Orioles don't. Honestly, you might even see this in how these teams are built. The Orioles are in the midst of a "plan," which involved growing arms and buying bats. Andy MacPhail told the fans that this would be a long process as it went along, and he's been right thus far. The Yankees and Red Sox don't sign or trade for someone unless they can help them win today. Personally I see that as somewhat narcissistic in a way, however the fact is that it's worked for them. The fact that a retread such as Matt Albers is seeing success makes you wonder if there's something in the wattah in Boston which doesn't exist in the wudder in Baltimore at the moment.
Incidentally, we see this across the board in sports. As an example, it'll be interesting to see if Albert Haynesworth has success in New England as opposed to what he did with my Washington Redskins. The Redskins are building what they hope is a winning team (which is a process) in a world where not trying to win now isn't acceptable. The Patriots seemingly have the eye of the tiger and they win games in a merciless fashion. Ironically, Haynesworth might have gone to just the right place; the fans there don't care how you win or how classy you are about it, they just want to win. If you end up rubbing your opponents' nose in the dirt while doing it, that's not their problem. Nevertheless, Ron Artest was thought to be washed up, yet he won an NBA title with the Lakers.
This is not to say that I'd want the Orioles to become totally like Boston or NY. As I said, there's a certain arrogance that comes with thinking you can do whatever you want and still win. Both of those teams are in the category of those people where things always seem to work out. While winning under any circumstance is always good, it seems to me that there's more of an underlying story in a case where you've struggled and worked towards that moment as opposed to buying it.