Let the wild card go to a team worthy of the postseason, a team that seizes the moment, a team that isn't terrified of its own success. Let it to go anyone but the Orioles, a team that need not fool itself any longer.
On paper, the Orioles should be ahead of each of the six teams they trail in the wild-card standings. In reality, they deserve to be 4 1/2 games behind Texas, deserve it with every bit of their underachieving hearts.
Oh, they're still in it, but who isn't? The three leading wild-card contenders -- Texas, Seattle and Milwaukee -- are baseball's answer to Larry, Moe and Curley. For the Orioles, it only prolongs the agony.
Texas yesterday lost its third straight to Minnesota, the worst team in the majors, a team 36 1/2 games out of first place. Seattle blew a five-run lead to Boston. And Milwaukee got shut out for eight innings in a 2-1 loss to Kansas City.
It would all be so encouraging, if only the Orioles had any life. But they're the Sisyphus of baseball teams. Every time they push up the rock up the mountain, they fall back down again.
"It's frustrating," third baseman Jeff Manto said after last night's 7-2 loss to Oakland. "There are so many positive signs, then we hit a wall for a couple of days. Then we turn it on again. Then we hit a wall."
The wall-bangers were at it again last night, falling two games behind Oakland, which now trails Texas by just 2 1/2 . Oakland lost Mark McGwire for a month. Oakland bats Brent Gates third. Oakland just isn't that good.
Only the Orioles could go 7-3 on the West Coast and then drop two straight at home to the A's. Only the Orioles could think their offense was revived and then score three runs in two games against a team with a 4.82 ERA.
"I thought we were going to be all right," first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said. "I thought we were going to come home with an upbeat attitude, playing the teams we had just beat up on the road.
"We're back to where we were before the road trip. The only thing I can say is we've got to put this one behind us, come out tomorrow and win."
Will this team ever snap out of it? Just think, we haven't even gotten to September and October, in which the Orioles went 31-30 in 1992 and '93 while supposedly contending for the AL East title.
The truth is, they're better off staying out of the wild-card race. Otherwise, owner Peter Angelos might get all full of himself and start to believe this actually is a good team.
This isn't a good team.
Never has been.
Never will be.
A good team doesn't go 0-for-7 with men in scoring position the night it begins a critical homestand. A good team doesn't fall behind 6-0 after five innings the next night, when a victory is badly needed.
The sad part is, the Orioles don't need to be a good team to earn the wild card. Everyone in this race is awful, with the possible exception of the Mariners, who are a rollicking one game over .500.
Want inspiration? Look at the National League. On Aug. 14, the Philadelphia Phillies lost for the 36th time in 48 games, falling into sixth place in the wild-card race, 7 1/2 games behind Houston.
They traded Dave Hollins, Mariano Duncan and Dave Gallagher. They lost Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, Curt Schilling and Tommy Greene to season-ending injuries.
But are they finished?
Of course not.
The Phillies won nine of 10 while the Astros lost 11 straight, and now are just one game out of the wild-card lead.
A 9-1 run would do the trick.
But a 9-1 run would require a five-game winning streak, something the Orioles haven't accomplished since early September 1993.
It also would require the Orioles to win under pressure, something they haven't done since, oh, their World Series championship season in 1983.
Three years ago, they were a half-game out of first place on
Sept. 5, then went 8-13.
Two years ago, they were a half-game out on Sept. 9, then went 8-14.
Last year, they were a half-game out on July 15, with manager Johnny Oates saying he wanted to be in playoff position by the time the strike hit.
Not that it mattered, but they went 11-13.
The manager changed, the players changed, but the Orioles faded all the same.
They were 4 1/2 out of first and a half-game behind in the wild-card race on July 30, two days after acquiring Bobby Bonilla.
They proceeded to go 4-14, falling 17 games out of first and seven behind in the wild-card race.
Thus, it's no surprise that the Orioles have fallen flat after reviving on the West Coast. It's entirely consistent with their recent history.
Twenty-nine games remain, and the schedule is no gimme. The Orioles face each of the division leaders -- Boston, California and Cleveland -- three times. They also play three each against Seattle and Milwaukee.
Why even project that far?
The Orioles have hit another wall.
Eventually, they'll just crumble.