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Orioles' Bizarre Offseason Leaves Fans Wanting More

February 26, 2016

I guess that's what I get for doing "show prep."

If you happened to tune into the Feb. 25 edition of Glenn Clark Radio (and when you think of it, why wouldn't you have?), you know that a topic we visited was a comparison between the area's franchises. The question I asked was "Whose five-year outlook do you like more: the Baltimore Orioles' or the Baltimore Ravens'?"

It was the first time in the decade-plus that I've spent as a professional stupid sports yakker that I've ever been able to legitimately consider such a topic. But with the Orioles' restructured deal for right-handed pitcher Yovani Gallardo finalized Feb. 24 to presumably cap an offseason of more than $200 million worth of spending, I considered it a reasonable question.  

Others apparently agreed. While the Ravens and their history of incredible success still won with roughly two-thirds of the vote, it was far from a clean sweep. An Orioles roster featuring center fielder Adam Jones, third baseman Manny Machado, second baseman Jonathan Schoop, first baseman Chris Davis, outfielder Dexter Fowler, etc. was viewed by one-third of Baltimore sports fans as leading to an outlook more desirable than an NFL franchise that has reached the postseason seven times during the last 10 years.

(Of note, this is by no means a scientific vote. It was a poll of Twitter followers and those who were willing to send emails or Facebook messages to their favorite Interweb-caster. Although none of the poll-takers suggested they believed Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to be the zodiac killer, so we've got that going for us.)

My vote also went to the Orioles. Admittedly, I was planning to write a column about how finishing an offseason by signing Gallardo and Fowler meant the Birds had put together their finest offseason hour. I was going to say that, at this point, anything was possible. Maybe the O's really would be spending $300 million to lock up Machado. Maybe they truly were committed to doing whatever it takes to deliver the first World Series title in a generation to Charm City.

While Gallardo was more or less the best of what was left on the pitching market, Fowler was a genuinely perfect fit for a team in desperate need of both a right fielder and leadoff hitter. As an Orioles fan, I was downright giddy.

Deep breath.

You know what? Maybe another deep breath.

There are an awful lot of you who are downright furious at either Fowler or the Chicago Cubs for the 23rd-hour maneuvering that delivered the outfielder back to the Windy City instead of right field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. You can't count me among your lot.

That's because after the initial shock of the news wore off, I was quickly left to shake my head and say, "Actually, that's about right." That's because Baltimore Orioles fans are a living, breathing representation of the Internet's "This is why we can't have nice things" meme. Fowler left the Orioles at the altar Feb. 25 with no desirable right fielder or leadoff hitter option because … of course, he did.

Ugh. Of course, it could be worse. At least after the Orioles got their asses handed to them this time, they didn't have to come back out for game two of a doubleheader.

How did we go from executive vice president of operations Dan Duquette and Co. having the moxie to convert a third year into an option with a quality free-agent pitcher to the team's best on-base option randomly showing up in Arizona overnight and pretending like he didn't just tell Adam Jones he was Baltimore bound?
Allow me to answer that question. We went from Point A to Point B because we're Orioles fans. This is what happens forever and for always.

We were so close. We were so close to having the type of offseason that would lead to an unbreakable "Orange Fever" come Opening Day. We were SO close.

Instead, we have to remember that no, the best teams in baseball are not typically still trying to fill crucial holes after full rosters have reported to spring training. And, yeah, it's pretty hard to be mad at a dude for potentially backing out of an agreement just days after you did the same thing to your top pitching import. And I guess we must also remember that there may have been equally good (or better) options available without the price tag of a draft pick before the Birds settled on the last free agents left at the bar at 2 a.m.

Instead, we have to wonder about the merits of trading for Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce and dumping young talent in exchange for what has to be like the 20th "home run or strikeout" bat this lineup could offer. Or the merits of getting something similar in free-agent first baseman/third baseman Pedro Alvarez just without that pesky little "ability to play defense" thing. Or the merits of … damn it, it's just going to be Nolan Reimold again, isn't it?

I'd rather have to pass a physical with my job on the line than spend the next five weeks thinking about Nolan Reimold.

The Orioles are good! Successful baseball minds are running the operation! It's not supposed to be like this anymore! We didn't even get to the physical this time!

So … no … I'm not mad at Dexter Fowler. 

I really should have seen it coming all along.