Friday, April 23, 2010

Running the Gauntlet: Testing the Oriole Mettle Over 12 Brutal Games

Running the Gauntlet - The condemned soldier was stripped to the waist and had to pass between a double row of cudgeling or switching comrades...Running the gauntlet was considered far less of a dishonor than a beating on the pillory, pranger, or stocks, since one could "take it like a man" upright and among soldiers...if the condemned was able to finish the run and exit the gauntlet at the far end, his faults would be deemed paid, and he would rejoin his comrades with a clean slate.

The next 12 games for the Orioles are their baseball equivalent of The Gauntlet. How they emerge from the other side will show if the season is completely lost or if they can regain some dignity.

The Orioles have stumbled to a 2-14 record. Now, they play the next 12 games against the mighty New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, the two best monied and best comprised teams in baseball. Sure, some of these games are at home but we all know that those really won't be home games. They will all be in hostile territory. This stretch was supposed to be tough before. Now that the team is 2-14, it looks insurmountable.

But the team (and the manager) has one thing going for it...there is nothing left to lose.

Nobody expects the Orioles to win any of these series. Certainly, nobody expects them to win more than 2 of the next 12. So now we see what they're made off. Will they lay down or will they fight? Here's your chance to shock the baseball world and stick it to you AL East rivals. Imagine how much wailing and gnashing of teeth there will be in those cities if you take even ONE series of the next four. The Orioles can look the giant in the eye and then spit in it.

They need to claw, fight, cheat and steal over these next 12 games. If anybody has a corked bat, time to break it out. If Kevin Millwood knows any tricks involving Vaseline from the brim of his hat, it's time implement that plan. Spike the second baseman. Throw high and tight to the cleanup hitter. Take out the pitcher if he's in the baseline.

If you want to lay down, fine. But there are no expectations for this team right now. Seize the opportunity and rise to the level of your competition.

It's time to "take it like a man" and outlast your beatings over the next 12 games. If you survive and walk out the other side, you might just find yourselves with a clean slate heading into June.

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