I am not a parent. Let's make that clear, for legal and ethical reasons. I am *not* a parent. But I did grow up a fan of Washington sports teams, which means I got more than enough versions of The Talk — why Dan Snyder doesn't want you to have nice things; why you should stop believing the Capitals are capable of holding a playoff series lead; why Gilbert Arenas will never beat LeBron James in anything important, ever; and so forth — to develop a passable imitation of my folks' hard-earned wisdom.
I was reminded of their real talk this past fall, when the Iowa football team came frighteningly close to an undefeated season, prompting the good-hearted podcast hosts of The Solid Verbal to offer help to those actual parents unsure of how to broach the topic with their confused, startled children. With the Orioles now 7-0 after another win in Boston Tuesday night, I felt it my civic duty to extend similar assistance.
Baltimore, should you need a guide because you never thought it'd get this far, here is how to talk to your kids about an undefeated Orioles team.
1. Start with the basics. "You see, this Orioles team hasn't been this good to start a season since all the way back in 1944. That was before Mommy and Daddy were even alive. ... Yes, I'm sure I wasn't born before then. ... No, Cal Ripken didn't play on that team."
2. Don't bother with St. Louis Browns history. You probably didn't know until Sunday that these Orioles were running down the '44 Browns' 9-0 start. That does not mean you need to go to Wikipedia to read up on how the Browns first came from Milwaukee or how they moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. Same goes for your kids. If you're from Baltimore, you have enough of a tortured relationship with sports welfare and out-of-the-blue relocations. The last thing you want to have happen is for a talk about the Orioles and Joey Rickard and happiness to devolve into a sobby explanation of why Grandpa Rodney cries whenever he sees a Mayflower van.
3. Talk honestly about your feelings and encourage them to share theirs. Some children, chastened by a lifetime of regular-season disappointments and playoff letdowns, might be hesitant to initiate a conversation about their expectations for this Orioles season. It's incumbent on you, as parents, to begin the dialogue. Talk to them about how Adam Jones isn't even healthy yet, and just you wait until the American League gets a look at the real lineup, especially with Kevin Gausman definitely-totally-certainly ready to become the pitcher we always thought he'd be, because that's just how Buck does things, darn it, and — wait, why are you walking away from me, my child?
4. Empower positive behavior. Now is the time for your spawn to shove the Orioles' perfect record in the face of that bratty New York Yankees fan-child you always see at their school's curbside drop-off. Encourage them to remind everyone they see that the 1970 Orioles never started this well, and they won a friggin' World Series. Point them to the Facebook comments section for ESPN's Week 1 MLB power rankings and teach them what "trolling" is, and how it is almost never acceptable ... and that this is one of those times when it's OK, so long as you don't tell your mother.
5. Devise plans of action (or inaction). If, say, your kid has worn a lucky Orioles shirt for every win, and it's starting to reek worse than that neighbor's kid's uncleaned belly button, and your significant other insists that the shirt be washed or you're sleeping on the couch indefinitely, find a way to lose that bad stink without that good mojo. Remember: The fate of the winning streak rests entirely on how you and your children arrange yourselves on the living-room couch. If this attention to detail means your seventh-grader turns in a half-completed essay on prevailing themes in "The Giver," trust that their teacher will understand why. (It took a while for Jonas to see the light in that book, after all, but I digress.)
6. Help them understand what's happening. If your children aren't familiar with "Trumbombs," now, I think, is an optimal time to add it to their vocabulary. They should know that 13 home runs in seven games is a very, very good thing when Chris Tillman is the Opening Day pitcher. Especially when Chris Tillman is the Opening Day pitcher. Talk to them about the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays. They might not be very good, but hey, you can beat only the teams on your schedule, right? Manny Machado and Darren O'Day's virtues should be well known by this point, so explain what the Rule 5 draft is and why it has helped everyone forget that Hyun Soo Kim is a multimillionaire bench prop. Convince yourself that good starting pitching is only a suggested starting point for success, and pass down the lie as you would a well-worn catcher's mitt.
7. Prepare for the inevitable. The Orioles will lose at some point. It might happen tonight. Might happen Sunday afternoon. Might happen late next week. But it will happen. Even the best record in the live-ball era had 43 losses by season's end. If Joey Rickard can strike out, the Orioles can lose a game of baseball. Seek comfort in the knowledge that five of the 27 teams to start the season 7-0 or better since 1903, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, went on to win the World Series. Which doesn't sound that great, until you realize that almost no one expected the Orioles to win the AL East, much less the whole shebang. The Ravens were a colossal disappointment last season — maybe those scars will help accelerate the coping process. Still, this far into April, it will be difficult. That first loss will hurt, sure enough. And that's fine, because, really, it's a lot better than not feeling anything.