On Tuesday night I watched the Orioles lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card game. After it was all over, and my Dad and I got our 15 minutes of bellyaching out of the way --- I mean SERIOUSLY, how do you not put Britton in the god damned game?!?!?!---we were able to take a step back and appreciate the season.
For 15 years, the Orioles were not only bad, but historically bad. A once-proud franchise had been swept into the dustbin of history, replaced by a team that year in and year out disappointed us. There were high priced free agents that underperformed (looking at you, Javy Lopez), horrible managers (Lee freakin’ Mazzili), an ownership group that didn’t seem to care, failed prospects (Adam Loewen, Hayden Penn)….you name it, the Orioles had it.
And then one day, The Orioles got smart and leapt at the opportunity to hire Buck Showalter, an (almost) universally recognized brilliant baseball mind who had been run out of his last job because he consistently got his team to the doorstep but never could quite seem to kick the door down.
Fast forward and the Orioles, despite one of the consistently worst rotations in baseball and a farm system incapable of developing replacements, have made the playoffs 3 times in 5 years by turning back the clock and returning to the Halycon Days of the Oriole Way. The strategy is simple…get a bunch of big dudes in the middle of the lineup and hit 3-run homers. You don’t win baseball games by VORP-ing the other team to death, you win by scoring more runs.
So, despite being picked to finish last in the AL East every pre-season, the Orioles keep winning.
And, while that brings me great joy, it stresses me out. Being the fan of a good team turns every game…especially the important ones…into 3 hours of torture. I don’t feel happy when the Orioles win a big game as much as I feel relieved that they didn’t lose it. It’s ridiculous. I EXPECT to win, but I spend the entire game pounding a ball into my baseball glove on the couch. I spent 15 years hoping this day would come, wandering the Marty Cordova desert waiting to find the Promised Land…and now that it’s here, I'm crippled by anxiety.
Everyone sees where I’m going with this, right?
I expect Miami to win by 2 scores. FSU is a mess, Matthew did them no favors in terms of travel, and the Hurricanes are due. On the other hand, the ‘Canes look great.
Sure, the ‘Canes have some clear weaknesses that have started to creep up over the last couple of weeks; for instance, the tackling hasn’t been consistent and the linebackers have gotten out-flanked more than you’d like to see going into a game against Dalvin Cook.
Additionally, Brad Kaaya still hasn’t really caught up to his hype in terms of on-field production, and the offensive line has at times been very shaky.
And let’s be real, Miami’s schedule hasn’t exactly been Murderer’s Row, no matter how we want to spin it.
However, those weaknesses pale in comparison to the following fact: Miami should have won this thing two years in a row, despite a talent gap and the country’s worst coach calling the shots.
If they were able to play FSU straight up despite a young QB and terrible coaching, what happens with a veteran, hungry, first-round prospect at QB in the huddle and one of the 12 best coaches in the country on the sideline?
Miami is winning by going old-school. Keep it simple. Punch them in the mouth on defense, and get the ball to your speed on offense. This approach is being orchestrated by a coach run out of town at his last stop, despite having a brilliant football mind, because he never could get them past the doorstep.
On the FSU side, everyone is starting to remember that Jimbo Fisher is a 2-3 loss/year coach unless he has a generational talent at QB that he is allowed to shield from a rape charge.
And oh by the way, FSU’s defense is ranked 112th in the country, so if nothing else Miami should move the ball on offense. That's a pretty amazing stat.
I work in research, so the stats matter to me.
Objectively, the ‘Canes are the better team.
And if the stats and recent history don’t convince you---if you still think that “FSU’s 5 stars backing up 5 stars” are just too overwhelming, that Jimbo is just too lucky--- read the following words from my favorite non-blood related Orioles fan, David Simon.
Anything that can happen, will. And in an infinite universe, it will happen repeatedly. The full implications of the second law of thermodynamics apply to the American League East (read: ACC) just as soundly as to a million monkeys at a million typewriters.
Eventually, and regardless of all prior history, the Baltimore Orioles (read: Miami Hurricanes) are going to type the complete works of Shakespeare.
How do we know this?
Well, for one thing, there is no God. There is only science. If there were a God, he would be—as evidenced by all of modern baseball (read:football) history—a devoted fan of the Yankees (read: Seminoles). And God, at least the Judeo-Christian version of Him rather than the Aristotelian unmoved mover, is said to be good. Ergo, there is no God.
And thus you all see how I have talked myself into this, yet again. Stats, history, chaos...take your pick, they all lead to the same conclusion.
And yet, the anxiety clings like a cloak. Again, I leave you with Simon.
In 2003, at the University of Plymouth in England, researchers experimented with a half-dozen Sulawesi crested -macaques in a Devon zoo, and discovered there were more unexpected variables than mere simian typing. After a month the monkeys had produced only five pages of work, heavily invoking the letter s throughout. And the lead male eventually took to smashing his machine with a rock, after which the other monkeys urinated and defecated on the keyboard.So if Chris Davis could start hitting the baseball, that’d be nice too.
Come on Miami. If you can't win now, when the hell can you?