Monday, April 11, 2011

Orioles Magic (Almost)

Ever since Buck Showalter took over on August 3, 2010, the Baltimore Orioles are 40-26. Before that, they were 32-73. 41 painful games under .500. A beaten team, a beaten fanbase, and a totally beaten city. How has he restored so much confidence and energy into a team and city that was lacking?

Simple: He reminded them that they were good major league players.

Ok, it isn't that simple. But instilling confidence in somebody can go a long way. It helps to get your second basemen and leadoff batter (Brian Roberts) back in the fold, too. But Showalter reminded the team that they were good, young major league players who were more or less just playing for the paycheck instead of the name on the front of their uniform. The end result? Well, so far they are 40-26 in just over two months of baseball.

The pitchers were skiddish before Buck took over. They nibbled around the plate and refused to challenge hitters in the vaunted American League East division. Suddenly, pitchers like Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta weren't nibbling anymore. Instead they were using their best stuff against the hitters. In baseball, that's the only way to pitch. Showalter's confidence in the young arms went a long way.

Showalter has gone out of his way to boost the confidence of young catcher Matt Wieters. Wieters, who arrived to the majors with an immense amount of fanfare and expectations, was quickly starting to crumble under the weight of his own success in college and the minors. However, Showalter wanted everyone to see just how great the young catcher could be. Wieters has begun to take control of the pitching staff and is the clear leader on the field. His hitting is still lacking, but being a top-notch major league catcher is a terrific thing for a young team to have. He controls the entire game and controls the running game. 28 of the 30 teams would kill to have him.

In the coming days I'll continue blogging and talking about the Orioles, major leagues, and other Ravens news as we get close to the draft. I took a few months off from this blog as I was looking for work; but I'll continue writing in this space. Hope you all enjoy it.

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