Today, the last game of the regular season, my beloved Baltimore Orioles defeated the World Champion Houston Astros 4-0 on a combined one-hitter by three Orioles pitchers. The Orioles also won their first game of the 2018 season against the New York Yankees in walk-off fashion, but in between it was nothing but futility.
That's because in between those to standout victories, the O's were 45-115, nearly eclipsing the worst season record in modern baseball history and establishing the club's own record for awfulness. It was a long, tortuous season, and I suffered through nearly every game through the magic of MLB-TV.
The season began with optimism, hopes that the addition of two highly regarded veteran free agent pitchers, Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner, combined with Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy would prove to be a formidable starting foursome. In fact, both Cobb and Cashner were so much in demand that the Orioles made exceptions for them to their no-beard policy.
Those four pitchers, along with Orioles stars Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini, Chris Davis, and Zach Britton were expected to to be the nucleus that would help the team contend for what was expected to be the last season that they would be together.
But by the July 31 trade deadline the team was in the toilet. All four of those starting pitchers were awful. Slugger Chris Davis was creating a gigantic hole in the lineup and by the end of the season, was on the bench with a batting average of around .170. Mancini got off to a slow start, very slow. Schoop was nowhere near the threat in the batters box that he was last year. Injuries mounted as did the losses.
It was clear that Gausman, Machado, Jones and Britton, in their final year of free agency, would be gone before season's end. So the O's threw in the towel and traded all but Jones for prospects and younger, cheaper players. Jones would have been gone, too, but his major league service time allowed him to veto any trade and he did.
So today, presumably, was his last day as an Oriole. Fans stood and cheered, yelled and screamed, every time Jones stepped into the batters box or ran onto the field. They carried signs wishing him well and asking him to return. But he told reporters after the game that he was excited about being courted as a free agent beginning three days after the World Series.
There have been no signs from management that they will attempt to bring Jones back, even though at age 32 he remains an outstanding, consistent player -- both at bat and in the field. His leadership value is unquestioned, as is his commitment to the city of Baltimore, where he's worked tirelessly to help youth by contributing both time and money.
Jones recently purchased a mansion previously owned by Orioles legend Cal Ripken. One has to wonder why he did that if he plans to leave. That single fact provides a small glimmer of hope that somehow he may return, but that's most likely not realistic.
This evening my neighbor, a diehard Yankee fan, asked me if the book I was reading on my patio was about the Yankees setting their home run record. He was rubbing it in because he knows how much I hate the Yankees. He's looking forward to the playoffs and his expectations of New York being in the World Series.
For me, I could care less. I'll probably watch some playoff games so I can pull against the Yankees and Red Sox. Other than that, for me it's wait until next year. Actually, it's worse than that. Now, with the core of their team gone and a bunch of prospects being auditioned, it's probably wait until three or four years from now before the O's will amount to anything again.
I am really depressed.