Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Is it too soon to get excited?

So I suppose the question I should ask, if I dare, is: has the magic returned? Is that ole Oriole Magic back in Charm City? I know tens of thousands of us are beginning to wonder if that old, long departed friend has returned. It is VERY early in the season, but oh what a start it has been thus far. Our beloved birds are 25-13 and in first place three games in front of the Red Sox and five games ahead of a team with a payroll larger than the economy of many developing nations (yes those darn Yankees).

As play began tonight in Kansas City, the Orioles had won 14 of those games with come from behind victories; they had the highest batting average; led the league in home runs; have a vastly improved starting rotation (with the same pitchers from last season); one of the best bullpens in baseball and finally believe in themselves.

So what happened? Was it the arrival of Sammy Sosa? No. Was it their overpowering offense? Partially. The real difference is the coming of age (so far) for several young, unheralded farm prospects who are more seasoned and making tremendous contributions. Eric Bedard and Daniel Cabrera have been sensational so far. Bedard has finally lowered the free passes he used to hand out and gotten control of his curve ball. Cabrera, after a shaky start, has become overpowering. His fast ball has been clocked in the triple digits. Brian Roberts, benefiting from an intense off season training regimen, increased bat speed reminiscent of Brady Anderson’s 50 home run season and secure with an every day position, is the most exciting and to many out of towners surprising player in the major leagues thus far this young season.

There are a lot of games to be played before September arrives in Baltimore, but provided the pitching can hold up reasonably well, there is no reason the O’s can’t be competing when the leaves begin to change color. Palmero, Bigbie, and Sosa have had little impact offensively to this point. Imagine how fearsome the lineup will be when they start to hit. Raffy appears to have turned the corner this week against Chicago and Kansas City.

1989 will always be remembered as the “why not” season when a bunch of underachievers nearly won the division. While it is hard to argue the lineup is unknown, the pitching staff is certainly full of young unknown pitchers. If the baby birds can keep it together in the rotation and the bullpen we might just start to call this season “Why Not, part deux.”


Post a Comment

<< Home