Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring hope's eternal

I've been a fan of the Baltimore Orioles since a long long LONG time ago, and I am really looking forward to the new season, which begins this afternoon at our home stadium downtown.  It's been up and down for years with this baseball team.  They won the World Series in 1966, 1970 and 1983, and if you notice, it's been a while since 1983.  For a few years in the '90s, they got into the playoffs, but not the World Series, and then, from 1997 through 2011, nada. Bupkis. Katy bar the door, 186 pages Dear John.

Led by manager Buck Showalter and some better players, the team got to the playoffs again in 2012, and the fans got excited again, turning up in numbers at the ballpark not seen since the ballpark was new.  Last year, some of the magic that had sparkled our way the year before didn't come through, and they finished out of the playoff race.

But they went out this winter as their 60th season in Baltimore approached, and they signed a slugger, Nelson Cruz.  Cruz comes with a little baggage in the form of a 50-game suspension last year for the use of performance-enhancing drugs while a member of the Texas Rangers.  They went out and signed a relief pitcher, an Australian chap named Grant Balfour, and Balfour failed the team physical exam, so he was told to hop away to another team and the Orioles are gambling on Tommy Hunter as their closer. They also signed starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez for the bargain price of $50 million for four years.

Second baseman Brian Roberts, whose tenure with the team dates back to the really bad days, was not in the team's plans and found work with the New York Yankees.  There was a time that a star leaving for the Bronx would have caused weeping and wailing around here.  Now it's more like "Good luck, BRob, see you around" and bring on 2014.

I have a feeling it's going to be a great year!

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