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What they're saying about the Orioles: Sept. 1

Here's a look at what other media outlets have been saying about the Orioles during the past week:

•After a strong finish in 2010, the O's have reverted to their losing ways, writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

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Six months are just a snapshot in the life of a sports franchise, but that's more than enough time to kill the buzz in a city and turn a swagger into a crawl. Consider the Baltimore Orioles, who were brimming with enthusiasm in spring training, but wake up to a harsh reality today. The landscape includes lots of empty seats at Camden Yards, a run differential of minus-126 and a starting rotation with Jo-Jo Reyes and Alfredo Simon smack in the middle.

The 2011 season has been a letdown for baseball fans in Cincinnati, Colorado and both sides of Chicago, but the word "disappointment" can't begin to describe what the remaining diehards in Baltimore must be feeling. As the Red Sox and Yankees take part in yet another high-stakes American League East staredown this week, the Orioles are once again playing out the string in obscurity. They're 27½ games out of first place and on track to surpass 90 losses for the sixth straight year and finish below .500 for the 14th consecutive season.

That's still five years short of Pittsburgh's .500 futility streak. But the Pirates at least enjoyed a brief fling as media darlings this year -- and spent five days in first place in July -- before running into the adult portion of their schedule. The Orioles, in contrast, continue to put the "b" in "beleaguered."

• Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News gives the Texas perspective on the Michael Gonzalez trade.

In acquiring Baltimore's Mike Gonzalez on Wednesday, a few hours before organizational playoff rosters must be set, the Rangers feel they helped the bullpen on multiple fronts.

Gonzalez gives the Rangers a second left-handed option in the bullpen, which could be important in upcoming games at Boston. He has closing experience and would allow the Rangers a chance to give Neftali Feliz a day off if he's pitched three days in a row. And he has two years of experience pitching in the AL East, which means plenty of experience against Boston and New York left-handed hitters.

"We weren't necessarily looking to add a left-hander or 'just any' left-hander," GM Jon Daniels said. "We feel like our winning pieces have the ability to get both lefties and righties out. But Mike was an 'above the line guy,' who has pitched in meaningful spots, who closes, who has pitched in the AL East and who seems to be locked in right now. He's the hot hand so to speak."

• Scott Miller of CBSSports.com writes that the last-place Orioles are stuck in a familiar late-season rut.

Where the Orioles are, of course, is where they usually are as September begins: Trapped in the purgatory that is located somewhere between the bottom of the AL East heap and the Triple-A International League, losses stacking up the way season-ticket orders once did (sigh), heads shaking like a Cal Ripken bobblehead doll.

Disheartening doesn't even begin to cover it. This time last year, the MacPhail-Buck Showalter leadership team had pulled the Birds up off the mat. They went 34-23 from the time Showalter took over, second-best record in the AL over the final 57 games.

• PressBox’s Matt Palmer wonders whether the Orioles have gotten better during the Andy MacPhail era.

I'm amazed looking around the Internet lately how many times it's stated as fact that the organization is on firmer ground. When MacPhail was hired, relatively early during the 2007 season, the Orioles were treading water and sinking. Under the co-general manager model of the early-to-mid 2000s, the Orioles were a mess, but one that was winning at least 70 games per season from 2003 through 2006. They were exceptionally bad. Don't get me wrong.

Since then, the Orioles have failed to reach that mark and could be on a pace to tie last year's 66-win total. Of course, the Orioles have gone through a rebuilding effort that was supposed to culminate with this season. Losses are a small cost to pay for eventual victories in rebuilding efforts.

But there's one problem. The Orioles have never gone wholesale rebuild. During MacPhail's tenure, the effort has been half-hearted. While the core of their team is young, they've never been bad enough to get baseball's top pick. At the same time, the Orioles appeared as if they feared the publicity backlash of being historically terrible and spent money on players they thought would make fans feel safe. Former All-Stars like Derrek Leek and Vladimir Guerrero were supposed to distract fans from how bad the team really was. Only, they worsened the problem by also being terrible, but not quite bad enough.

[Compiled by Matt Vensel. If you enjoy reading these posts about the Orioles, Ravens and other Baltimore sports, check out Matt Vensel's Coffee Companion posts every morning, Monday-Friday.]

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