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So this is the way we have to measure success at this point, winning one series at a time.

It requires some patience and heaven knows, there's been a lot of that required this year and last year and the year before that. But the weekend series following the All-Star break for the Orioles was a decent start for the second half. Different players taking turns helping to win games is usually a good sign.

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Yesterday, it was fill-in starter Garrett Olson and glove-and-speed guy Corey Patterson providing some rare power with his second homer in three days in a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox.  The victory gave the Orioles three wins in a four-game home series with a western road trip in front of them. OK, back in April, you may have been expecting the heroics to come from Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. But in a season in which the manager is fired a month before the midway point, even incremental improvement is water on parched lips.

* The Phillies finally did it -- reached 10,000 losses to set that dark milestone sooner than any team in American team sports history. Philadelphia fans have been bracing for that mark with a perverse sense of anticipation. They packed Citizens Bank Park yesterday with 44,000-plus, apparently all wanting to bear witness to a 125-year history of failure. Years ago, I wrote a story on the 1961 Phillies, who set the major league mark for consecutive losses -- 23 straight.  The 1988 Orioles almost removed the yoke of that dubious distinction by losing 21 in a row but managed to pull out of the nosedive just in time.

When I approached the story about the '61 Phils, I wanted to take a humorous look back at the team that somehow managed to eclipse all other losing Phillies teams. I reached Frank Sullivan, a pitcher, out in Hawaii. Sullivan was a pretty witty guy and when I got him on the phone and explained the premise of the story, reminding him that the streak reached 23 games, he deadpanned -- "Gee, is that all it was?" When I got manager Gene Mauch on the phone and explained I was doing a funny treatment of the losing streak, even years later his response was, "There's nothing funny about losing."

Well, after nine years of it here, I think we can agree with the late Mr. Mauch on that one.

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