The Baltimore Inferiority Complex

If you have grown up in Baltimore you know what I am talking about – if you don’t know what I am speaking of allow me to explain.

Virtually everyone that has grown up in the greater Baltimore area suffers from a unique condition called the “Baltimore Inferiority Complex” (BIC). The BIC results in your average Baltimorean taking a salty attitude towards virtually every other city in the US – especially on the east coast. Baltimore is sort of the forgotten middle child of the east coast. Sandwiched between Philadelphia and the national capital the larger bands, stage shows, comics, speakers and world in general tends to bypass us. We have lost a basketball team, and a football team and the biggest contribution to the larger picture of American culture has been “The Wire;” not exactly something for the tourist board.

Philly, DC, New York and Boston get songs written about them – happy songs, upbeat songs. Songs featuring Baltimore are usually in the Tom Waits vein.

Growing up in this type of environment lends someone to believe that the world has it out for our weird little town. The Orioles never get the calls, the NFL did everything it could to keep a team from coming to Baltimore, the NBA hates us. Hell even the war for which we are “famous” (the one where we saved the effing country?) is the one you gloss over in your high school history classes.

If cities were Presidents then Baltimore is James K Polk. Industrious, got things done, loud, brash and largely ignored.

Why am I bringing this up? Two words: Prince Fielder.

ESPN, and various other sources are coming out with stories that recent meetings between agent Scott Boras and Washington Nationals’ brass have vaulted them into “the lead” to sign the former Brewers slugger. and that has sent BIC suffering O’s fans into a frenzy. I have literally read the following statement:

“If the Nationals get Fielder that would literally be the worst case scenario…”

Now, outside of BIC I do not see how that is possible. Honestly. Let’s say for example the Nationals do land Fielder. Realistically they will have to pony up an astronomical sum to get him there. Think what the Nationals did for Jayson Werth – imagine a Werth-like overpaying would mean for Fielder. Exactly. But let’s say they get him – the Orioles are affected how exactly?

Are the Nationals in the AL East?

Are the Nationals in the AL?

Will the Orioles have to play the Nationals 22 times a year?

The answer is no to all of those questions.

“But James, you magnificent example of the human species and standard by which we are all measured, it would be a crushing humiliation for the Nationals to pick up Fielder over the Orioles,” you say. I would respond simply – I don’t think the Orioles have ever been really “in” on Fielder. This is not Tex, where losing the hometown star to the Nationals in a direct bidding war would definitely have been humiliating, this is just another free agent. Fielder is the gem of the FA pool right now, this is true, but one must ask if it would be worth the Orioles to even begin to invest the type of money on a player like Fielder when there are so many other pressing needs. For example the Orioles’ offense last year was actually surprisingly competitive all things being considered; it hovered right around league average by the end of the year. Conversely the Nationals’ offense was a well-below NL average with an OPS+ of 89, putting them on par with the woeful Astros and the offensively challenged Giants and Pirates. It makes sense for the Nationals to take a big risk and spend stupid money to try and lure Prince Fielder – they need a giant bat. The Orioles need pitching not Fielder.

Now, Fielder would be nice. Once again I love Fielder and I would love to have him as an Oriole. I think that if the Orioles really wanted him they could probably get him. But the Orioles real pressing need is pitching. The Orioles need to make serious plays for solid major league caliber pitching and that will like mean trades and FA signings.

Before some slackjawed response comes flying at me to call me some sort of apologist, like I have time in my life to find ways to apologize for this team, just close your mouth, wipe your chin and think for a second: What good is Fielder if over the next three years our pitching continues to be among the worst in the league? Last year the Orioles scored an average of 4.7 R/game they gave up 5.3 R/game their problem is an overwhelming pitching deficiency. The Orioles need to be spending the money that would go into Fielder on pitching development and young near-major-league ready arms. They need to figure out how to get Matusz, Arrieta and Britton to live up to their potential. They need to sign Chen. I would contend that doing those things would go a long way to making us a better team in 2012 and beyond than landing Fielder this year.

Yes, Fielder is enticing. Hell, Fielder is down right a drool-worthy prospect. However, having said that, if the Nationals get him it is not the end of the Orioles’ world. If the Blue Jays get him or somehow the Rays get him – THAT would be a world of trouble for the Orioles but worrying about the Nationals is nothing more than the Baltimore Inferiority Complex rearing its ugly head