On the O’s: guarded optimism

As spring training begins for the local hometown teams, it appears fans are cautiously optimistic about the Orioles’ chances – at least that’s how they polled here.

Let’s do a quick review: since losing the 1997 ALCS to Cleveland, the Orioles have been among the most mediocre of franchises as they’ve endured 13 straight losing seasons – in fact, the 70-win mark has eluded them the last four. But the majority of those responding thought the revamped Orioles, who have added power bats like Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, and perhaps Vladimir Guerrero (assuming he passes a physical) would eclipse that number and maybe – just maybe – break that string of losing seasons.

But the optimism stopped there, as no one expected the team to win 90 games or make the playoffs. Perhaps that’s more due to the reputation of the American League East than actual talent level.

And there were a few who chose to be pessimistic, as 1/6 of those voting foresaw the moves blowing up in Andy McPhail’s face. They figured a 100-loss season wasn’t out of the question, and if neither Derrek Lee nor Mark Reynolds adjusts well to the American League, Vladimir is indeed in the coda of his career, and the pitching fails us it could happen. But I fall into the camp of thinking 81 or more wins is indeed possible. (Over 80% believed Baltimore should win at least 75 games.)

With the season now just around the corner, optimism is king and all 30 teams might fancy themselves World Series contenders. (Okay, maybe not the woeful – as in 57-105 last season – Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ve actually gone nearly two decades without a winning season, which is too bad because they play in a nice ballpark. And to think these two franchises tangled for a World Series crown twice back in the 1970’s – I remember the ’79 Series well although O’s fans might prefer to forget.)

Hopefully an improved major league teams pays dividends down the chain as well since the Shorebirds fans are overdue for a playoff team. I’ve seen one playoff game in six seasons here so consider me one who thinks it’s time!

The Orioles’ season starts on April 1 at Tampa Bay, with the home opener April 4 against Detroit. (Sorry about that home opening sweep by the Tigers; things will look up from there.)

Poll results:

  • 62.5% believe the Orioles could finish with a .500 season (81-81)
  • 20.83% foresee a 75-win season
  • 12.5% think they’ll lose 100 games
  • 4.17% believe they’ll only match the 66-96 mark last year’s team produced
  • No one saw the Orioles win 90 games, make the playoffs, or win the World Series