Here comes the rant you all must have known was coming...
What the hell does it take to get noticed by the beat writers covering Major League Baseball nowadays? Is an 11-7 record and a half game out of first in baseball's "toughest division" not enough to get even a meager mention?
If you're dense and didn't realize what I'm ranting about yet, it seems that I am the only sport-knowledgeable writer on the entire Internet that has noticed the Orioles this year. On Si.com, the O's were briefly mentioned as the last headline on the MLB page (and it was a rather derogatory headline, I might add... "Orioles finish rare home sweep of Blue Jays"). On ESPN.com, they couldn't even buy space on the baseball only page, despite winning their fourth game in a row and 8 out of their last 9 (seriously, just a mention would be nice).
So what, then, is taking up all this prime cyber-real estate? Well, it's not football season, so it's not Peyton Manning or Pats v. Colts. Pro basketball hasn't reached the critical phase yet, so it's not Lebron. College basketball is long over, so it's not Coach K. That leaves only one option... hockey! (sorry, couldn't resist). No, seriously, it's Yankees v. Red Sox, shocker.
Let's paint the picture here... First place versus third place. Team that overspent on unproven Japanese "superstar" versus one-trick pony (see previous post). First series of what seems like four hundred to be played between the two teams this year, and each one will get just as much media attention as all the rest, unless, God help us, one is played in October. Sadly, this one is in April, the month that nobody will care about come October anyway.
Which brings me back to my original point... where's the harm in giving the Orioles a little love while we're still mathematically alive? April 22nd of 2006 was the last time the Orioles were 3 games above .500, and here we are, on April 22nd, 2007, and we are now 4 games above .500 and in second place. The Orioles couldn't string together four wins until August last year, and as we all know, by August its time to fugghedaboutit in Charm City, cause Raven's camp will be starting soon. At this point, the Orioles have put together two (count 'em) four game winning streaks, with only a loss to those pesky pesky Devil Rays preventing a 9 gamer.
This is the time of the year when almost anybody (sorry Nats and Royals) still has hope that they can be this year's Detroit Tigers, and damn it, in Baltimore, it just feels right (gotta love the false hope of April). The hitting is streaky, but at least someone is getting it done each night. The starting pitching, long the Bird's main weakness, looks like it may have hit its stride a little bit. And my God, did my eyes deceive me, or did the bullpen actually hold the lead three times against Toronto this weekend? This is the time of the year when nobody really cares about baseball, so why can't Sports Illustrated and ESPN give a little attention to the little teams that could?
The answer, of course, is money. New York and Boston have bigger populations, and therefore more potential readers. Load up the front pages with pictures of Dice-K and A-Roid (nice touch, I know), and the loyal Stankees and Red Sux fans will be drawn like moths to a flame. That, in turn, results in more advertising dollars for the respective websites, which is all that really matters. Forget that the Orioles are red hot right now, and actually deserve the headlines over the Yankees especially.
The second part of the Orioles' apparent lack of importance lies in who is actually delivering the 11-7 record so far. The Oriole lineup has one bonafide star, Miguel Tejada. Sure, we have a two-time All-Star third baseman, an All-Star caliber second baseman, and stars in the making both in right field and in the starting rotation, but that can't compare with the overall sex appeal of the New York and Boston lineups. Those lineups, pricey as they are, are chock full of "All-Stars" (on paper), and are even easier to market. Of course, neither lineup was good enough to win the World Series last year, and one wasn't even good enough to make the playoffs, thereby justifying my point that neither team is above the rest of the league.
The Orioles are probably doing their annual April practice of giving each fan just enough hope that when the wheels fall off the wagon in late May/ early June, we will be genuinely upset. However, while the team is good, it would be nice to see the media recognize it for a little while. Let the teams that will ultimately buy their way into October (again) wait their turn... they'll get plenty of coverage when the leaves turn brown, football starts again, and I forget that Baltimore even has a baseball team.