Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Great Experiment, Week Ten: Playing to Win, Playoffs Be Damned

Who says .500 isn't a worthy goal?

By Aaron Koos

If you were listening to the Orioles’ radio broadcast during the rain delay of the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader with the Phillies, you might’ve heard an entertaining segment where Joe Angel and Jim Hunter interviewed a pair of baseball superfans, Ben and Scott. These two college students from South Carolina left June 6 on a 30-city, 44-day tour of America’s pastime.

Extremely well-spoken, and apparently well-rounded with interests spanning beyond baseball – from tennis to girlfriends to online poker (how they’re financing this trip) – Ben and Scott are living proof that even if baseball has serious problems, this is still a magical sport.

For a fan that has lost his religion, hearing about Ben and Scott’s pilgrimage was inspirational and heartening. And, best of all, they’re fellow bloggers, so you can read about their journey and see great photos of the ballparks here.

Also on Wednesday, John Eisenberg of The Sun had a good column questioning the wisdom of acquiring Russ Ortiz when the spot in the rotation could go to a homegrown, young arm like Adam Loewen who could use the experience. I generally agree with Eisenberg, but there is also something to be said about not throwing a young pitcher to the lions before he’s ready. Why rattle Loewen’s confidence and give him the opportunity to develop bad habits? I trust the team’s decision that Loewen can get the experience he still needs in the minors.

And, if Mazzone and Ortiz can indeed rekindle the veteran pitcher’s career (he won 36 games in two seasons with Atlanta), it might help the Orioles get above .500. Clearly the playoffs aren’t an option again this year, but perhaps striving to avoid the ninth losing season might be a worthwhile goal. Following Wednesday’s day-night sweep of the Phillies, the record stands at 37-42, and a winning season certainly seems within the team’s grasp. Is there any value in playing for a winning record if you’re not in postseason contention? I think so.

Look at that. This week I’m listening through rain delays, feeling inspired by other fans, and rooting for a winning record, despite no shot at the playoffs. My CAP average – the ultra-scientific system that rates my abilities as a fan in the categories of Current Knowledge, Ardor, and Participation – should soar. And, it has, all the way to .213. Certainly not a lofty average, but the highest it’s been in 2006.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that finishing above .500 is a worthy goal, the team should be concerned with winning games rather than developing players. The team has not had a significant winning streak yet, though with its current makeup, don't know if this bunch can reel off 10 in a row. Win 3 then lose 3 that's how it looks.

icterusgalbula said...

On 7/5, the Orioles stand 1/2 game out of last place in the AL East. Maybe instead of .500 they should be aiming for just holding on to fourth place. As far as developing players goes, how's Cabrera's education coming along? Is his time in the majors helping him or hurting him?