Spring may be that magical time of year when birds are chirping and the crack of the bat fills the air and [CLICHE MISSING PLEASE CONSULT OLD PERSON FOR APPROPRIATE SPRINGTIME NOSTALGIA], but when the season actually starts, we can feel free to make snap judgements without the haze of preseason hope. Yes, the real season legitimizes all claims, not like that fake season that started in March. Man, I was pretty convinced the A’s were gonna win it all.
No, now is that period of the season when promising teams can appear weak and talentless; scrappy ne’er-do-wells scramble out the gate and muster enough luck to sit atop the divison; and we can all sit back and chortle mindlessly at fun, insane statistics. George Sherill’s ERA is 108.00! Ha ha!
Predictions are left unfulfilled. Dreams remain un-crushed. And everyone talks about how aware they are that it is only four games into the season and these statistics are meaningless.
Except, we aren’t really. If you’re a Mets fan right now, you’re ecstatic. If you’re a Phillies fan, you’re furious. If you’re a Royals fan, you’re whistling and polishing an old shotgun. If you’re a Braves fan, you’re squinting at your framed picture of Chipper Jones, whispering affectionate somethings you’ve never even said to your spouse as your eyes fill with tears.
So why don’t we review who is feeling what at this unfair, unreasonable intersection of baseball.
Mets, Pirates, Orioles, Astros
The last time we saw the Orioles, they were hopping jubilantly about the infield of Camden Yards; a youthful exuberance that was soon killed when they were informed that knocking a team out of the playoffs does not mean that they get to go instead. Quickly, they threw up an index finger and asked Baltimore to hang onto that emotion for six short months while baseball ended and started again.
In the interim, not a lot changed for the Orioles. They swapped out Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel, and almost got a no-hitter for their troubles. Which was interesting. They now sit a half game out of first place.
Those of you in this situation are undoubtedly hearing a lot of archaeological facts as well, like the Astros not having a winning record since 2009, and the Orioles not starting the season with a three-game sweep since… well, since last season, when they did it to the eventual Wild Card champs whose playoff spot they would guarantee by beating the Red Sox on the aforementioned last game of the season. Are the Orioles the Illuminati? Remember, it’s April, so we can confidently say “yes.”
Beyond that, there is also sweet vindication to be sampled. How about that long term contract the Pirates gave Andrew McCutchen, like they were some ballsy big market club locking down a franchise player and then celebrating by firing a cannon of money into a champagne fountain. Eff yeah!
Doesn’t seem so silly now, does it, with the Pirates this close to winning the division. And speaking of commanding division leads, the Mets don’t seem to have any challengers, despite being the only team not considered to be a contender in the NL East. Nevertheless, their success has gotten the attention of the kind of societal exemplaries that make up the Mets fanbase.