The O's, why worry?

Our view : Dividend of another Orioles rebuilding year? A stress-free life and lower expectations, but here's to another season in the ballpark

April 06, 2009

Stress kills. It's a well-known fact, particularly given that cardiovascular disease is the nation's top killer. With the recession, the rise in unemployment, continued uncertainties in the Middle East and other global hot spots, and all the other anxiety-producing events unfolding around us, the last thing Baltimore needs is to get overwrought about Major League Baseball.

Today, as Orioles Nation experiences yet another Opening Day, let us take comfort in the fact that we, as fans, need not trouble ourselves with stress-inducing thoughts of pennants or playoffs. Poor, poor New York, Boston and Tampa-St. Petersburg. People with the misfortune of living in those cities have it much tougher. Numerous public health studies show that fans of contending teams are far more likely to drop dead during the baseball season than those whose teams are not.

We made up that last bit about the public health studies. But shouldn't it be true? Think about it. Is it really healthful to yell at your TV set or stay up late watching West Coast games? Worry about injuries? Fret that your top slugger's latest batting slump won't end? Envy the free agent signings of others?

Thus, the Orioles fan approaches today's game against the New York Yankees unburdened by the expectation of winning. Baltimore fans can savor the smell of fresh-cut grass, taste the delights of Boog's barbecue washed down with the appropriate draft beverage, scan the neighboring section for New Yorkers (Loud, boorish and blue? You found one) without the distraction of the score.

After more than a decade in the divisional cellar, Baltimoreans have developed an appreciation for the less obvious aspects of the game. Watching Nick Markakis develop as a hitter, studying Brian Roberts' base-stealing techniques, tracking an Aubrey Huff home run, relishing Melvin Mora's ability to juggle line-drives and quintuplets.

Granted, there are some out there playing the what-if game. What if the O's had starting pitching? Or what if they had a starting pitcher? What if they had half a starting pitcher? But such thoughts are best left aside, particularly by those with high blood pressure. People that hard-core can invest themselves in the Orioles quest to stay out of the American League East cellar.

So if you make it to Camden Yards or just to your TV set, relax and enjoy. O's fans can run out to the concessions or take a bathroom break whenever they like. We don't worry about scalpers. What will happen in October? Around here we call that the off-season.

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