Come on in, people. Pull up a stool. Welcome back. First drink is on me. Maybe the next five, for that matter. I owe ya. We also have a vat of Red Sox chicken in the back that you can dive into. I don't even care if you're working. I won't tell the Boston media.
We'll start with an apology. Sorry the bar has been closed for so long. I'm afraid our dormancy has chased you to other places like Applebee's or, even worse, other blogs. We had all kinds of problems in this joint with shoddy plumbing, rodent infestations (I'd still avoid the burgers if I were you) and some sketchy electrical wiring behind the wall.
But the doors are again wide open. For a long while, I hope. Because it is baseball season, and you know we love to talk (argue) baseball at Connolly's. That's the key here, of course. For this to be worth my while, I need you to comment, to tip me your two cents, to tell me I'm a moron (I can take it, but expect your next cocktail to be watered down).
One of the main reasons I took a break ("We were on a break," I scream in my best Ross Geller) is that our comments at the bar were down sharply after some changes to the site. But I've gotten enough feedback from you – some kind, some not so much – that I felt we need to hang the shingle again. Hopefully, we can get the comments flowing like the cheap beer. I'll do my best to be your ever-prodding barkeep.
Today's topic is brought to you by a passionate Orioles fan who was in line in front of me as I boarded a plane for Los Angeles (where I'll be covering the Orioles-Angels series this weekend) and as the Orioles were about to take three of four from the Chicago White Sox.
As we were waiting to board, I was chatting with another member of the Baltimore media about the Orioles when the subject of left fielder Nolan Reimold came up. We chatted about Reimold's hot start – this week he became the first Oriole since Luke Scott in May 2009 to homer in four straight games. He's hitting .341 with a .357 on-base percentage, four homers and eight RBIs in 41 at-bats, though he missed Thursday due to neck spasms.
We agreed that it would be good to see Reimold get back to the form that made him one of the real bright spots of the 2009 season. We agreed that Reimold had an inconsistent year last year (and a miserable 2010) and that he was better than that.
With that, the young woman in front of me spun around. My guess is she was around college age, maybe early/mid 20s. She apologized for eavesdropping and asked if we were talking about Reimold. When we said yes, she immediately responded: "He was sub-par last year."
Just to make sure we didn't miss her point, she again said, "sub-par" before she walked off to grab her seat. I smiled at the other guy, and joked, "Everyone's a critic."
But a couple things stand out here. First, I love the fact that true Orioles fans still care and still get riled up even though the team has been terrible for more than a decade. This young lady cared enough to break into a conversation to interject her opinion: We were being too soft. Reimold was sub-par in 2011. Plain and simple. I loved it.
It also drives home the expectations involving Reimold. Scouts were torn on his big-league ability when he was in the minors, but he burst onto the scene in May 2009 and was a rookie of the year candidate until injuring his left Achilles.
He really hadn't been the same since, yet Orioles' fans saw the promise again last September. And they are yearning for homegrown players who can make a legitimate contribution. He is Exhibit A, a former second-rounder.
There's no sidestepping it. This is a huge year for Reimold. He has been given another chance to start in left field. He has been handed the keys to the leadoff spot – at least for now – given his tendency to work counts and get on base.
Reimold, 28, is healthy and seemingly in a good place mentally. He seems visibly more relaxed this year – more than he has since 2009. And his trademark hustle out of the box is still evident. But he'll have to overcome his inconsistency at the plate and his inadequate (sub-par?) defense in left if he wants to keep his job and fully win back the fans that embraced him in 2009.
I think he has it in him. I've seen a different Nolan so far this year. But the jury certainly is out. I want to know what you think about Reimold and what his future will be.
Daily Think Special: What's your take on Nolan Reimold? Will he return to his 2009 form?