1. Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.
It has not paid to be an optimist when considering the Baltimore Orioles over the last decade and a half. I once stood in my office, phyiscally praying for a sunny day so a massive activity that I helped plan would not be cancelled. My boss asked me: “Are you a religious man, do you think God listens to your prayers?” I replied: “I’m an Orioles fan, if there is a God, it certainly is not listening to me.” Thinking back to the beginning of Spring Training the Orioles seemed hopeless. The magic of game 162 had been drained away by an uneventful offseason and as pitchers and catchers reported to camp the most fans and virtually all media had resigned the Orioles to not only be last in their division but perhaps even one of the worst teams in baseball.
ESPN: The Magazine released their 2012 MLB preview written primarily by Buster Olney and Tim Kurkijian. Every team was broken down and given a best and worst case scenario. The Orioles best case scenario – less than 70 wins. That is right, according to ESPN the Orioles’ best case would be to simply avoid 100 losses. Their worst case, 107+ losses. If you’re an Orioles fan there simply is no reason to think this season will be any different than the last 14.
But then Brian Matusz shows up and his velocity is back where it should be. Then Adam Jones starts tearing the cover off the ball. Nick Markakis feels fine and looks ready for Opening Day. Chen Wei-Yin looks very solid as he adjusts to MLB. Jake Arrieta is throwing hard and strong. Brady Anderson is in the front office and working with all the young players. Matt Wieters has a couple big games. Suddenly the starting rotation doesn’t look as dire. Suddenly the lineup looks pretty good.Suddenly optimism creeps into your brain.
Optimism and baseball are funny things, they both come with the Spring. This winter was awful in Baltimore, rainy and depressing. No snow, no fun. We just had our first complete week of really nice weather. Meanwhile in Florida the Orioles bats have come alive scoring 32 runs in their last four games.
Zack Britton going down with shoulder inflammation hurt, but for the first time in what feels like forever the Orioles have plenty of arms to go north and all of them have a chance to be successful. There was no guarantee that Britton would have made the squad coming out of ST anyway, so if he is on the shelf until May then so be it.
Don’t talk to anyone in the media about the Orioles, the dire predictions remain and they won’t change until something forces them. Even I don’t think the Orioles will win much more than 75 games, and I was called a complete simpleton for believing that on Friday. I can feel that creeping April optimism slinky into my brain as the weather begins to turn. Watching games on TV again, listening on the radio, seeing that smiling brid on the hats. The smirking happy bird seems like he is telling me: “don’t worry buddy, things are gonna be alright. Hey, wanna have a catch?”
There is still no real reson to be optimistic about the 2012 season. but as April 6th draws ever closer it is hard not to start thinking those two very dangerous questions: “what if?” and “why not?”