So here we go again with your Baltimore Orioles.
Here we go with another probable change in the front office. And the usual wholesale jettisoning of bad players. And another offseason that the fans spend wondering what in God's name this team is doing, what direction it's headed and who's going to lead it.
How many times do we have to go through this?
How many more trees have to die, how many more gigabytes do we burn before the Orioles become even semi-respectable and I can stop writing these columns?
It's enough to make you weep if you're one of the 200 people around here who still cares about this team after 14 straight losing seasons.
So what do we think the Orioles will do after finishing 69-93 and last — again — in the American League East?
At some point in the next few days, unless an asteroid slams down on the Warehouse, we expect they'll announce that Andy MacPhail is stepping down as president of baseball operations.
After that, well, your guess is as good as mine.
Does Buck Showalter leave the dugout and take over as president/general manager?
Do the Orioles elevate someone else from within the organization? (I know, I know … Like who? The fry cook in the lunch room?)
Or do they go looking outside for some whiz kid or veteran front office exec to lead yet another rebuilding project?
And make no mistake, with the way the young pitching staff blew up, this team took a major step backward this season.
You don't fix this team with just a couple of tweaks. You bring in the bulldozers and the cranes. This will take some serious rebuilding.
Showalter more or less signaled that before the team's 8-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
"Things move pretty fast in this game," he said. "I feel pretty confident we'll be pretty relentless about trying to improve our club."
So who gets spared the wrecking ball?
Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis, Mark Reynolds, Chris Davis and Robert Andino come back. Who knows about Brian Roberts and his concussion-related headaches?
Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta return as starting pitchers. Tommy "Big Game" Hunter, too, because Showalter loves him. Jim Johnson returns to the bullpen, as does shaky Kevin Gregg, mainly because the Orioles owe him $5 million and he's a great guy in the clubhouse.
After that, it's KA-BOOM! Plan on seeing a lot of new faces.
And, please, don't be fooled by how the Orioles played in September. Don't be fooled by that 15-13 record. Showalter had all those extra arms in the bullpen after the September call-ups. He could trot out 10 pitchers a game if he wanted to.
There's an old baseball maxim that says you don't judge a team by how it does in April and September. You judge the whole body of work. You judge it over an entire season.
And judged that way, the Orioles stunk. End of story.
What I want to know is this: What are the Orioles going to do this offseason to get the fans excited? What are they going to do to generate any buzz?
Last offseason, it was all about Showalter, remember?
Showalter was the plucky new manager who seemingly did the miraculous and presided over the team's 33-24 late turnaround in the otherwise disastrous (66-96) 2010 season.
So the Orioles marketed him like he was a modern-day clone of the sainted Earl Weaver.
At FanFest in January, Showalter got the rock-star treatment from the crowds that flocked to the Convention Center.
An elderly woman standing next to me was vibrating like a gong when Showalter took the stage that day.
"There he is!" she kept shouting, as if she'd just spotted, oh, Tony Bennett. Or the pope. And when Showalter left the stage, grown men were elbowing little kids out of the way to pump his hand and tell him he was the greatest thing since the ATM.
As the new season neared, the Orioles milked Showalter's star power at every turn. They slapped his picture on the team's media guide. They made him the centerpiece of those MASN commercials.
He was the savior, come to lead the Orioles out of the AL East basement and back to the promised land of respectability. Only it hasn't happened yet. Ninety-three losses took care of that.
So now how do the Orioles sell this team in the offseason?
What's the marketing slogan for 2012?
"Come see what the wrecking ball did?"
Kind of has a nice ring to it, if you ask me.
Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show."