Orioles Kick Off 2002 With A Bang... But...

As always, the dark cloud known as Peter Angelos hangs over Charm City like its a cruel joke from the grave of Robert Irsay.(Disclaimer: Ptbnl refuses to say the name Irsay. Any mentions herein, are strictly Bert's doing). Actually, Irsay isn't that bad anymore. He's dead! Not to mention our boys in purple have won the Super Bowl. However, Pete will live to be 120 just to mock me in my dreams. Let's get this out of the way. Like most of you reading this...

...we are lifelong Oriole fans, BUT WE ABHOR PETER ANGELOS! His list of shenanigans is well documented, so we won't bore you with repetition. Then there is the matter of his appointed flunky, Director of Baseball Operations, Syd "What's The Early Bird Special?" Thrift. He should have retired to a home. Like, 15 years ago. Hasn't he just had his 200th birthday? Yet, with all this negativity, not to mention comical baseball, Oriole fans again look forward to Opening Day like we will win the pennant. We are the best, most loyal fans in the game. Our motto should be, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

Well, here comes that paddle gang. It's in the form of the 2002 Baltimore Orioles. Love them like a 3 legged, one-eyed dog.............

Opening Day was Monday, April 1st, against the powerhouse New York Yankees. However, April fools were on the Bronx Bombers this day. After getting hit on the pitching hand, Ace Roger Clemens imploded by giving up a Grand Slam to Third Baseman Tony Batista in the bottom of the fourth. Batista becomes only the second Oriole to hit a Grand Slam on Opening Day (Eddie Murray/'82/KC/Memorial Stadium). The O's go on to win the game 10-3, behind a strong comeback effort by pitcher Scott Erickson. O's fans leave happy, but the fun ends there.

The hometown boys go on to lose the next 2 games, while NY fans AGAIN take over Camden Yards. To make matters worse, the Boston Red sox then came to town, and promptly swept the Birds in 3 straight. The O's end week one in last place (AL-East), and sporting a 1-5 record.

There are other points to consider when looking at this squad. The O's have a made over club, and a healthy one. Everyone has settled into a set lineup, and we've had 6 well-pitched games. But, it's April, 2001 all over again...except this time the O's are on the losing end.

We wonder if it's dawned on anyone in the front office that Sydiot (A term of endearment BTW), and St. Pete, are running in different directions? The owner hands the reins over to a Manager that had a reputation as a winner (Mike Hargrove),but who also had a bad rep for not being able to handle a pitching staff. The owner then promotes a guy, Syd Thrift, who rebuilds a club through young pitching. Where are our position players? Players that play sound, fundamental ball?(The term Oriole Way will not be used in this column.)

The Front Office likes to call this a youth movement, but one look at the roster shows that is a bunch of bunk. Look at it this way, Hargrove is the Captain of the SS Titanic, and this baby is is again about to hit the iceberg.

NOTES & ETC...

- Opening Day marked not only the start of the 2002 season, but the 10th Anniversary of Oriole Park @ Camden Yards.

- Former O's skipper Johnny Oates, who is fighting brain cancer, threw out the first pitch to a standing ovation.

- The Baltimore SUN reports Oriole owner Peter Angelos may be looking into selling the team.(When hearing this news, Orioles fans around the world prayed. HARD. Really hard.)

And finally, PD's take... With regard to our beloved O's, three things seem clear.

1) They can't hit.

2) They can hit, just not in the cold.

3) They can hit, just not anything over 82 MPH.

Another glaring weakness is the lack of production from the lead off spot. The job was handed to second baseman Jerry Hairston, and we were told that we would see a new, more patient, more selective hitter. A catalyst, with a high on base percentage. Yea right! Hairston is as selective with his swings, as Brian Billick is with his Quarterbacks. "If it's in here, it must be good." Jerry? Hit the ball on the ground and run!!!!!!!!

That being said, all is not lost. After week one, we are first in fielding, and we have real pitching. And, to quote the Earl of Baltimore, "That real pitching has deep depth."


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