The year is young on the Beltway but there's some early hope out of Baltimore. And the Nationals are also a team.
Let's take a look at the Suck Meter.Nationals. My preseason underdog has really stepped it up in the first week of the season, going an unprecedented 0-7. With a combination of a nonexistent pitching staff, unfulfilled potential and just a downright lack of talent, the Nats might contend for the worst season in baseball history.
Only one team in the majors has given up more runs than the Nats' 54 (Cleveland, 55. And they have an offense. And they're still 1-6). This is bound to happen when you're airing commercials showcasing a guy getting delirious because of a worthless game where "ace" John Lannan struck out seven Mets last year. This is a franchise grasping at straws. Your current rotation: Lannan, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, Jordan Zimmermann and a JUGS machine built in 1964 that the Nats stole from a Florida trainers' room. Yuck. At least the ESPN Nationals site has a sense of humor, showcasing the team "Wins Leader" on the right side of the page. Here's a hint: it's a tie!
Here's some breaking, cutting-edge news for you, Blackistone. Hope-of-the-Franchise Lastings Milledge was sent down to the minors a few hours ago. So... so much for that. Is it possible to be eliminated from playoff contention in May? We're about to find out.
The talk is that the Nationals have to draft Steven Strasburg in June, but knowing them, they'll screw that up too. Besides, to say this team is going to use their pick to fill a need is basically a given. Everything on this team is a need. What a failure of a franchise and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves. Verdict: Last time, I said, "Terrible, but not otherworldly terrible." This time? Otherworldly terrible. 1.
Orioles. This has been a team on a mission, and I've even started tricking myself into thinking that the Orioles might stay relevant all year. Of course, they won't, and they'll have another historically bad August where they go 1-24 or something like that, but for now it's been pretty nice.
The thing is, the Orioles have shown that they at least are smarter than the Mariners, and at best they have a competent offense. Seriously, as time moves on, that Bedard trade is looking smarter and smarter. Pac-Man Jones is your next big thing, and Goofy George Sherrill is locking down games like Mo Rivera. Which is wonderful, because Chris Ray has been an abomination so far.
But how about that offense? Aubrey Huff, Nick Markakis, Pac-Man and Brian Roberts. Those are four legitimate baseball humans. Sidenote on Roberts: I went to the game on Saturday and I was depressed that his at-bat music wasn't "Stanky Legg." I thought that was going to be a given.
But I digress. The lineup is for real, and once Wieters comes up we could see the best offense Baltimore has had in a decade. On top of that, it's been a hot start for the O's, who find themselves behind the Blue Jays somehow for second in the East at 5-2. As I'm typing this, they're in the eighth inning in Texas, tied at 3-3. Certainly not a bad start to the season.
Unfortunately, that offense is going to have to hold up, because we're not going to see too many 3-3 games with this team. Guthrie is a nice player and Uehara has shown that he at least understands how to use his arm to propel a baseball forward, but I can't say that much about anyone else currently on the major league roster. But you never know, maybe if they're hanging around mid-season, one of the big prospects (Tillman, Matusz, etc.) comes up and pitches okay, maybe there's someone out there on the waiver wire (Ben Sheets?), maybe this pitching staff gets patched together.
Oh, wait, Peter Angelos still owns this team. Crap.
But as for right now, this team is relevant. And that's more than I can say for the Nationals. Verdict: This is very close to the best we could possibly hope for as Orioles fans. 7.5.