I outgrew drinking Kool-Aid around the time I was eight or nine. The reason? It's just not good, much like the Baltimore Orioles.
Of course, you can see the potential in it—mix in some sugar or soda and it improves it, but it's still not great. Again, much like the Orioles.
Sure the O's have made improvements this season, but enough of the orange Kool-Aid drinking already.
Last night, the O's made the biggest comeback in franchise history. I flipped the game on when it was 4-0 Red Sox. When the Sawx jumped out to a 9-1 lead, I got annoyed and changed the channel.
To what you may ask? A WNBA game, in which the only player I knew was Candice Wiggins, daughter of former Orioles second baseman Alan.
When I woke up this morning, I was amazed to hear the Orioles had come back to win the game. Much like Dave Trembley, I didn't get overly excited about it. I was much more excited about the start of the NHL free agency period.
I was happy they had won, but at the same time it was one win over the course of the 12th consecutive losing season for the O's.
Any momentum they had gained last night, was shattered when Trembley pulled Brad Bergesen today, in the top of the ninth. Of course, the bullpen blew a 5-1 lead and eventually lost the game in the 11th inning.
The Orioles have some nice pieces in place. Bergeson seems like the real deal. Nolan Reimold, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are a solid outfield combo. Matt Wieters is coming along nicely (a couple of throwing errors notwithstanding).
Here's where the Kool-Aid comes into play.
The team keeps telling us that in 2011, the Orioles are going to be great with our three young pitching studs (Tillman, Arrieta and Matusz) coming to the parent club. There is no guarantee that all or any of them will even pan out.
Baltimore fans have been hearing this for a while now.
"Just wait until Hayden Penn and Adam Loewen come up."
"Daniel Cabrera has the 'stuff' of a great pitcher" (none of whom are still with the organization). "Just wait until next season. We'll be better."
I, for one, can't take it anymore. I have had enough. I see the team heading in the right direction, but I don't want to hear about 2011. I want to see them turn the corner now.
Eleven years of waiting is long enough.
I'm not even asking for them to win the division. Just get to 82-80. It's a shame that two games over .500 would make me happy, but that's what happens after 11 straight losing seasons.
I used to be a huge Orioles fan. I went to all the games I could and kept score. I bought every card and piece of memorabilia I could get my hands on. I would love to get a new road jersey, with Baltimore on it, but I refuse to give the organization any of my money until I feel like there is a product worth supporting.
Cal Ripken was my hero from 1981—when I was 10—until the day he retired. When he did, my interest in baseball started to fade.
They were already five years into losing and things haven't changed since. In fact, they seem to have gotten worse. The players have forgotten the fundamentals of the game.
Players like Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora, two of the slower guys on the base-paths, have run the team out of several innings. Felix Pie holding the ball in CF after Wieters had over-thrown second on a pick-off attempt. Brian Roberts, not diving for a ball he could have had. Ty Wiggington misplaying a grounder at first.
Things like this make me feel like they are more than just a year or two away. I hope they can get back to being the team I used to love, but I don't see it happening in the very near future.
What I miss the most, is taking my son to the games. I loved going to the games with my dad when I was his age. There is nothing like a father and son bonding over sports and baseball lends itself to this better than any other sport.
But unless I get some free tickets, I don't think we'll make one this year.