"Close don't count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."
Frank Robinson is quoted as coining that phrase during an interview with Time Magazine in July 1973, which is to say you wouldn’t expect him to put too much stock in the Orioles’ 12-7 start to this season.
But Robinson – who will be immortalized with a statue at Camden Yards on Saturday – said he feels the organization is on the upswing.
“I think this team is headed in the right direction,” Robinson said in an interview Saturday when he attended the President’s Cup championship at Camden Yards. “They’re building. They’re building slowly. They’re not rushing, They’re not panicking. They’re not changing directions. They’re going to continue to get better each year, and I don’t think they’re that far away. I really don’t.
“I think that within the next couple years that they’ll have a real good chance to be back on top.”
Boog Powell, who I also caught up with for Saturday’s story on Robinson, agreed.
“These guys are pretty exciting,” said Powell, who still spends quite a few nights at the ballpark. “I bet they’ve won four or five games that they never would have won last year.”
Powell also suggested that the Orioles’ celebration of their past might help, as “winning breeds winning.”
Robinson made it clear that – despite working for almost 25 percent of the major league organizations in his 56 years in baseball – it would be particularly special to see the O’s have success again.
“Yeah, because it’s been kinda painful,” he responded with a laugh, “especially as a [former] player to see this organization struggle.
“This used to be a model organization that other organizations would try to build their teams like. It’s a shame that it has gone the way that it has gone, but it shows the character of this organization. They have not quit … and now I think they’re on the right track. They’re going in the right direction. And they have the right people running this team.”
Paul Blair was more critical of the current group, saying he feels the Orioles aren’t as much of a team as when the organization had success in the past.
“Until they learn how to play as a team, they’re going to be a below-.500 team,” Blair said. “It doesn’t matter who the manager is.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun