How you feel about the first half of the Baltimore Orioles' season says as much about you as it does about the Orioles. Are you a glove-is-half-full kind of person? Or are you a glove-is-completely empty - thnk Mark Reynolds or Wilson Betemit after a hard grounder goes through their legs - kind of person?
Let's think "half full" first.
After 14 consecutive losing seasons, the team that was picked by most to finish last in the AL East and by many to lose more than 100 games, was in first place on Memorial Day. They've been as many as 12 games over .500. At the season's official midpoint, they were on pace for 88 wins. Even after a rough stretch, they went into the Saturday before the All-Star break at 45-38.
Center fielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters have confirmed that they are among the best in the league at their positions. Jim Johnson has emerged as a lights out closer. Trading for Jason Hammel and signing Wei-Yin Chen look like brilliant offseason moves and are 40 percent of a solid starting rotation.
They are in realistic playoff contention at the All-Star break for only the second time this millennium, Nick Markakis should be back soon and Dylan Bundy is waiting in the wings. And, hey, Chris Tillman looked amazing in his one start, throwing 10 percent harder than he did last year and commanding his curveball.
Now, what about the "completely empty" fans?
This team is on pace to make more errors than any Baltimore squad in half-a-century. Some of that is attributable to injuries that have forced guys to play out of position. Some of it is infuriating, as Jones and Wieters are far too talented defensively to make as many errors as they have. And much of it is attributable to a gaggle of designated hitters masquerading as corner infielders.
Sixty percent of the team's starting rotation from the beginning of the season has been sent back to the minors. Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz are perpetual teases.
Additionally, the team has no speed and no ability to manufacture runs, relying far too much on the home run to score. Plus, the same bullpen that was the team's strength for most of three months has begun to struggle. And second baseman Brian Roberts, after a feel-good return from the disabled list, went back on the DL and took a .182 average with him.
And, hey, Chris Tillman had his one start against the light-hitting Seattle Mariners, and he's pitched well before only to revert.
But whether you're "half full" or "completely empty," regardless of what you think might happen the rest of the year, admit this: If someone had offered you this record at the All-Star break, you'd have taken it no questions asked.