Thursday Thoughts: Limping to the Finish Line

Adam Jones catches and blows a bubble.

This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. As of last year, I cut it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver/€“Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. Welcome back to Thursday Thoughts. I’ve been limping to the end of this abysmal season just like the baseball team in Baltimore. If you hadn’t noticed, we took a few weeks off here at Thursday Thoughts, and for good reason. What’s the reason? In short – there was nothing to say. It’s hard to have any thoughts on this baseball team that is doing absolutely nothing to speak of.

There are four games left, and then the fun really begins. I’ve been watching less baseball than I was earlier in the season, but I’m still watching. I know that’s probably not the case for many readers here. Football season has started, kids are back in school, and life gets in the way of watching a team lose 110+ games.

Watching the Orioles in this state is likely to induce harsh flashbacks of the early 2000’s. It’s not pretty. It’s also going to be like that for a while going forward.

Get used to it.

2. While you aren’t watching baseball this weekend, it’s likely that both Buck Showalter and Adam Jones will be making their final appearances for the Orioles. It’s happening at Camden Yards, and I encourage anyone who can go down and show their appreciation to do so.

I wrote about this earlier this week in my last guest piece for MASN Sports. I definitely don’t think Showalter is coming back to this team, especially following reports last week that the O’s will move on from the manager. I also think it’s pretty unlikely that Jones is back, unless we get to February and the market is just not there for him. In that case, he may come back in a limited role, but I’d doubt it.

I was especially filled with pride in Jones earlier this week when he spoke from the heart with reporters after yet another loss. He called out the media for trying to make a story out of him playing left field. I don’t blame the media for trying to come up with something to write about it. It’s their job. But I also loved the fact that Jones just spoke honestly with them and didn’t care about creating a soundbite.

More than anything, that’s probably what I’ll miss about Jones after his Orioles career is over. It’s his honesty and “realness” that gets me every time.

3. When it comes to replacing Showalter in the dugout, if that’s something the Orioles are going to do, I’d expect it to happen sometime in the next six weeks or so after the season ends. There will be plenty of candidates, but probably none that excite you to the point of wanting to save up for playoff tickets anytime soon.

Buck Showalter holds a bat in Spring Training.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Among the familiar names rumored to either have interest in the job or be candidates are Mike Bordick and Billy Ripken. In my eyes, both would just be placeholders for a young team that needs someone filling out the lineup card each day. There are also going to be many others with managerial experience such as Joe Girardi that are rumored to be candidates. John Gibbons was also just relieved of his duties in Toronto. Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus no longer have gigs either.

As for Showalter, it’ll be interesting to see if this is his last stop, or if he has one more in him. I could see him latching on to another gig if it’s the right fit. Perhaps if the Phillies are unsatisfied with the job Gabe Kapler has done, Showalter could take the reigns and maybe even reunite with Manny Machado in Philadelphia next season.

Everything would point to Showalter retiring, but I wouldn’t close the book on him just yet.

4. If you haven’t read the piece published earlier this week by Sports Illustrated on the struggles of Chris Davis, I encourage you to do so. It’s well-written and extremely poignant.

I find it very hard to have sympathy for Davis, but I do have empathy for him. The 32-year-old is getting paid a lot of money to do a job. As anyone can see, he’s not doing the job well enough.

The Orioles are obviously in a lose-lose situation with him. But perhaps the biggest issue here is that no one is really addressing the root of the problem, and that’s because no one really knows what the root of the problem is. Davis isn’t different physically than he was a few years ago. Is he different mentally? Is there some kind of block happening that’s equivalent to the “yips?” I’m not sure. I’m not a doctor. But I do think there has to be some kind of conversation about mental health, which is something that as a global community is not addressed enough.

These are after all, humans, that play baseball. They aren’t robots or machines that go out and produce numbers. The game of baseball is a physical challenge, but it is also a mental one. Getting your body right is one thing, but getting your mind right to play 162 games over the course of six months is not easy either.

I don’t know what the future holds for Davis, but I think I’m in the majority when I say I hope he figures it out.

Not just for the Orioles’ sake, but for his own.

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