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Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Written by: Peter Coolbaugh

The cliches are rolling off the presses right now. A new season. Hope springs eternal. A clean slate.

The beginning of Major League Baseball every year gives all fans a renewed sense of confidence and peace. Nothing in the past matters. Something good can happen this year. The mindset of a true fan is one that is of the belief that things can improve. It is called faith.

MLB Opening Day kicked off for several teams yesterday with the rest of the clubs going today. The Orioles will open on the road again at Tampa Bay tonight for a three game set. Home Opener is against Detroit on Monday at 3 PM. Optimism is a word that gets thrown around a lot. But coming off the big acquisitions in the off season and with a very even spring training record at 15-15-2, the black and orange Birds now are prepared to flex their muscles a bit and serve notice on the American League.

If you followed the near historically bad Orioles of last year, you will notice that a lot of faces have changed. In fact, only Brian Roberts remains in the infield. Luke Scott has transitioned to the role of LF and newbies like Lee, Hardy, Reynolds, and Vlad look to reverse the trend of losing that we have become so accustomed to over he last 13 years.

As a baseball fan, I have a deep love for the history of the game. As a member of SABR, people peg me more as a stats person but in reality I am more of a historian who does not rely on numbers merely. Sure I can rattle off who did this and who batted what for their career, but I love the team aspect of baseball.

For example, the Orioles during their St. Louis Browns era, were horrible. Might be one of the reasons why the club does not acknowledge a lot of that history. But after 55 plus years in Baltimore they have accomplished more than a lot of other clubs. Hall of Famers, World Series titles, individual awards for players, the prototype ballpark, and numerous other accolades that I can ramble on about for the next 30 minutes. But what people fail to realize, especially younger people with the short memories and attention spans, is that the Orioles are winners. Even with 13 seasons of losing, they still have a .500+ winning percentage since their appearance in Charm City in 1954.

Contrast that with the Phillies who while a dominant team over the last four seasons with consecutive division titles, an NL pennant, and a WS title are still the worst team ever in professional sports. Their overall regular season record is more than 1,000 games under .500 and would take 30+ years of winning 100 games a year to get to the break even mark.

What I am saying is that you need to look at the big picture. The apathy of Baltimore fans is apparent. We hate the owner, the team is lousy, football is more important... these are the usual excuses as to why people stay away from the Yard. Attendance has been dropping every year for the last decade, but something new could be on the horizon.

Baltimore has often been compared to St. Louis as a baseball town. Our success as of late has not come close to mirroring the Cardinals but we are often put in the same sentence with that hardball-crazed city. The arrival of Showalter last summer and the turnaround we experienced in a short time - both on the field and in fan enthusiasm - was a harbinger of things to come. I am so pumped about what may transpire in this season and down the road, I can hardly contain my giddy self. Y

ou might have read all the predictions of the local and national "experts". Some think the Orioles are worse off now, since the team is filled with veterans. Final record has been predicted from anywhere from 66 wins to 91. In the end, who knows what will happen.

I am just counting the minutes until I can enter the iron gates at the newly renovated Oriole Park at Camden Yards and enjoy a season which could be one for the ages. Buck and his Birds have vowed to bring good baseball back to Baltimore. We as fans need to be there to witness it.

Boy am I excited. See you at the Yard this year!

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