It's never too soon to overreact to losing.
That's why, after just seven games, the question already has been posed: "Could the Houston Astros become the '88 Orioles?"
Here's an excerpt from The Big Lead.
The Houston Astros flat-out suck. They’re 0-7. Worst start in MLB history to begin a season: Baltimore Orioles, 1988 edition, going 0-21 off the top. Here’s the Astros’ schedule. For reference, here’s that 1988 Orioles roster: team finished 54-107, but wasn’t too awful – Tettleton, both Ripkens, Eddie Murray, an aged Freddy Lynn. Problem: their top four pitchers all had at least 12 losses. Question beckons: can the 2010 Astros drop 14 more, or even get close?Back off, Houston, that's Baltimore's futility record.
Short answer: no. It’s conceivable to think of Houston losing the next two in St. Louis and getting swept at Wrigley – Cubs’ offense has been putrid, but still, it’s Wrigley and spring is in air for the Bums – but dropping nine at home, including six to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, would almost be too much to bear for an organization that was in the World Series a half-decade ago.
They won’t be the 1988 Orioles, but still, here’s some issues we unearthed regarding the 2010 Astros. We won’t even reference No. 3 starter – NUMBER THREE!! – Bud Norris, who has no business being in a rotation right now.
I make that remark jokingly, but I admit I've developed a certain sense of nostalgia about the 1988 team.
"Fantastic Fan Night" alone makes me proud to be an Orioles fan.
Name another franchise that could attract more than 50,000 fans to a homecoming celebration after the team played the worth month of baseball in history. [Do yourself a favor, and read this article.]
Jon Miller - yes, the same Jon Miller who's covered some of baseball's greatest moments- counts Fantastic Fan Night among his most memorable games.
But it wasn't just one display of pride.
I can remember going to school and having the O's losing streak be discussion topic No. 1 in Homeroom (You did have Homeroom at your school, right?).
Included among the talk was The Sun's headline that included an "O" for each loss at the start of the world Orioles. (O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-Orioles).
Would we all rather have been talking about World Series possibilities? Sure. But there was a sense of unity around the team. Our team.
That sense of unity carried over from Homeroom to math class where our teacher, an usher at Memorial Stadium during the summers, showed videos of past Orioles World Series triumphs each year at the start of the baseball season.
I learned in school that we stuck by the O's, win and lose.
That's why I like the fact that my Orioles franchise hat has the year 1988 on the back of it.
It would be difficult, to say the least, to muster the same kind of passion in Baltimore these days.
Whereas the 1988 Orioles weren't all that far removed from the franchise's glory years, the 2010 Orioles haven't seen a winning season in more than a decade.
In 1988, there was a sense that things would soon get better. They had to. These were the Orioles after all.
Lo and behold, one year later we had "Why Not?"
These days hope and optimism are the housing and credit of the Orioles fan economy. The bubble burst and left a severe crisis of confidence in its wake. Cynicism alone survived the collapse.
Perhaps that's why it's easy to be nostalgic about the worst start to a season in baseball history. Somehow those were better times.
Image Source: SI Vault.