The final night of the 2011 MLB regular season was one of the most incredible in the game’s history. It capped a September of comeback and collapse that saw Boston ushered out and the amazing Tampa Bay Rays ushered into the post-season.
And the last place Orioles were in the midst of it all- finishing the season with a thrilling 9th inning rally that stunned Boston. It completed a memorable month of September for Baltimore during which they went 15-13, the O’s only winning month of the season. The Birds won 5 of 7 against Boston in the month, split 6 games with Tampa Bay, split 4 with Central Division champ Detroit, and won 2 of 3 from the Angels who were in playoff pursuit. Well done, O’s. You showed what good starting pitching, a reliable bullpen and timely hitting can do, at least in the short term. The key will be to figure out how to do that more consistently for the other 5 months of the season. Despite an impressive September, a 69-93 season record is the real measure and the harsh truth: not good enough.
Yes, there was reason to feel good and celebrate at Camden Yards after the incredible comeback against Boston on the final night of the season, knocking the Sox out of the playoffs. But the players’ reaction to it all was properly muted. More importantly, the manager’s reaction was businesslike. Buck Showalter isn’t fooled by a single month when a season is 6 months long. His reaction: it’s time to get serious about fixing this mess. And he wasn’t fooled by the Orioles strong finish when he took over in August of last year. Away from cameras and microphones, he told any number of us that despite what it looked like- he didn’t have enough good players. And he’s saying that again after this season, because it’s true. Showalter has hinted at a major overhaul (maybe 12 new players on a 25-man roster). He’s talking big change because he’s going to be the man making changes- either as general manager or a highly-involved field manager. Do it, Buck. Clean house as you see fit and rebuild the house that’s been dilapidated for 14 years. It’ll be no quick fix. “Claw by claw, inch by inch,” Showalter said in a serious tone after midnight Thursday morning with the season over and O’s fans dancing in the aisles- believing their team could be good again. Buck Showalter’s not fooled. As it is, this team is not good enough. No more dancing, no more celebrating hollow victories. Time to get serious. It should be compelling to see how Showalter works his off-season plan. If nothing else, we know the man does have a plan.
posted by Mark Viviano