Cumberland Times-News

Columns

May 21, 2011

The song remains the same

It is somewhat comforting to know the world did not come to an end on Saturday because God does not love me. For despite what my friend Jim Zamagias tried to tell me all day on Friday, that “if it does occur, and it won’t, it won’t be because you won the lottery,” I was convinced that it would.

 Yes, we are still here; no, the world did not come to an end and, no, I did not hit the MegaMillions jackpot on Friday night.

Coincidence? I think not. And not even Dr. Z, with all of his sound reasoning and logic, can convince me otherwise.

Actually, I do believe there are several other occurrences that could take place that would trigger the Apocalypse and one of them would be Luke Scott making a routine defensive play in left field to prevent either the Yankees or the Red Sox from mounting floodgate-crashing rallies to overcome five and six-run late-inning Orioles leads.

Face it, the Orioles want Derrek Lee back from the disabled list pronto, but if Luke Scott must play a defensive position, first base would appear to be the safest place for him to be. As an outfielder, he makes Lonnie “Skates” Smith look like Willie Mays.

And his hitting? Well, if Luke Scott refuses to believe President Obama’s birth certificate is real, the President, if he has ever tuned into MASN, would likely refuse to believe Luke Scott could get a runner in from second base with two outs in a tight game if his life depended on it. The guy’s the king of the solo home run in a five-run game.

Now as much fun as it would be to place the entire blame for the Orioles’ recent woes squarely on the gun-toting shoulders of Luke Scott, that wouldn’t be fair to Brian Roberts, or Nick Markakis, or Mark Reynolds, not to mention the entire Orioles bullpen. Or even manager Buck Showalter.

No, Buck’s not blameless in this mess either, although there’s no specific move or strategy that he has or has not employed that could be targeted for the downward turn of his team. But this is his team and while we were quick to build him a statue last September for orchestrating the Orioles’ strong turnaround, he, too, is the man driving the car as it heads down the dead-end road.

Placing the blame, though, on anyone specifically would be as pointless as predicting the end of the world based on a winning lottery ticket. The truth is, one infected area of a baseball team infects the entire area of a baseball team and when the Orioles are pitching well, they aren’t hitting. When the Orioles are pitching poorly, well ... they still aren’t hitting.

This is a team that just doesn’t appear to be able to hit. Or at least a team that doesn’t appear to know how to hit.

Opposing pitchers don’t have time to get into trouble when they’re pitching against the Orioles. Opposing pitchers don’t have time to break a sweat when they’re pitching against the Orioles because they’re usually back in the dugout in about 10 pitches.

Hasn’t anybody on this team heard of working a count or making a pitcher throw more pitches than he needs to? With their see-ball, hack approach, the Orioles just aren’t giving themselves a chance.

And please, let’s not hear any “Bring back the Crow!” garbage. It’s as though former hitting coach Terry Crowley never left, because the Orioles’ hitting approach still seems to be to go after the first hittable pitch.

What really seems to be at the core of this team’s shortcomings, though, is it is a team filled with players who have never really won. The losing culture runs deep in Baltimore and can be traced to the day Peter Angelos got rid of Davey Johnson.

Remarkably, .500, the realistic goal for this club, is still within sight for the Orioles, but it doesn’t feel that way because they have already had two extended losing streaks that have either snowballed or begun with blown leads of five and six runs. Not coincidentally, those losses came to the Yankees and the Red Sox, teams that make a living on smelling fear in their opponents and quickly killing them off.

The Orioles don’t have that, and they haven’t had that for quite some time. Remember the Mother’s Day Massacre of 2007 and the losing streak that transpired from that? You can feel when a game begins to get away from this club, even when it has a seemingly insurmountable lead, because it doesn’t have the wherewithal to put an opponent away, particularly a good opponent.

So how does a team develop the ability to win? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The Orioles farm system remains a rumor and they can’t land a boffo free agent even when they are bidding against themselves. On top of that, Frank Robinson walks through your door just once in a lifetime.

In the meantime, no lead is insurmountable and no losing streak is more than a blown lead or a blown save away. At least not until somebody already in uniform not named Showalter takes ownership of this team. And frankly, it doesn’t appear anybody in this uniform knows how to do that.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Peanuts and Cracker Jack beat any foam finger

    Times have changed, and for the better, as this week marks the third year in a row NFL training camps have opened and have not taken center stage in the cities of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington. That, of course, is due to the play of the three baseball teams that inhabit said cities, the Orioles, the Pirates and the Nationals — two of whom hold first place in their respective divisions, with the other one entering play on Wednesday just 2 1/2 games out of first.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore

    At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.

    July 20, 2014

  • Mike Sawyers and his father, Frank Sale of quart-sized Mason jars lagging, merchants claim

    The opening day of Maryland’s squirrel hunting season is Sept. 6 and I am guessing you will be able to drive a lot of miles on the Green Ridge State Forest and see very few vehicles belonging to hunters of the bushytail. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1960s, when I was a high school student in Cumberland, there was no Interstate 68. What existed was U.S. Route 40 and in the last couple of hours before daylight on the opening day of squirrel season there was an almost unbroken line of tail lights and brake lights between Cumberland and Polish Mountain.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hugo Perez Columnist, son are range finders, but where are .22 shells?

    We feel pretty lucky on this side of the Potomac to have a nice shooting range to utilize for free and within decent driving distance.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Further proof you should never bet on baseball

    Had you known in March that ...

    July 16, 2014