The Baltimore Orioles have been extremely bad this season.
This is not a groundbreaking revelation as the 2018 team currently has the worst winning percentage in Orioles history and is awfully close to being worse than the 1939 St. Louis Browns, the worst team in the entire history of the franchise.
I'd quite obviously prefer to see the Orioles win 71.6 percent of their games instead of losing them. However, as they've now played over 100 games of extremely bad baseball, I've started to find their extreme incompetence almost relaxing.
Why? Because there's absolutely nothing stressful about any game they play.
I saw how angrily Yankees Twitter reacted to Gary Sanchez failing to run out a grounder in the 9th inning with the Yankees trailing by a run against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday. The Yankees are currently chasing the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East and as such probably could've used that win at Tropicana Field.
It was later revealed that Sanchez had a groin injury, but in the immediate aftermath Yankees fans were understandably furious that their catcher wasn't trying in a close game in the midst of playoff race.
Seeing your team lose a close game in a playoff race is an immensely frustrating experience, which is why I'm glad it's something I don't need to worry about as an Orioles fan this year.
From 2012 to 2017 the Orioles were playing meaningful games into July as well as August and September. That's obviously not the case this year, which means I don't have to worry about games like the 2013 September loss in Tampa Bay that lasted 18 innings or the 2015 team sitting at 62-57 on August 19, only to be a swept in a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins, sending them in a spiral that cost them a playoff appearance. Even last season, they woke up on September 6 just one game behind in the race for the second wild card and then preceded to go on a six-game losing streak and killed whatever playoff chances they possibly had.
Moments like that are immensely frustrating, as five months of baseball feels like they were basically a waste of time as the sixth month ends with failure and disappointment instead of the excitement of the playoffs. That's what makes this year enjoyable in a sort of way: we already know there is absolutely no chance the Orioles are going to make the playoffs and as such, every game is entirely stress-free.
Watching an Orioles game from now until the end of the season is somewhat relaxing, because neither outcome really feels that bad at this point.
Occasionally, you feel pleasantly surprised they actually won a game and if they happen to win that game against an actual good baseball team like the Yankees you can laugh as the opposing fanbase collectively melts down over the loss.
The majority of the time, you get the result you expect: a loss that puts them that much closer to the No. 1 pick and the chance to select someone who could be a franchise-changing talent.
There's no pressure, no stress and if they end up scoring five runs in the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game only to lose it on a walk-off in extra innings, you can just throw your hands up and laugh instead of wondering if that's the kind of loss that will haunt them if they don't make the playoffs. Their incompetence is more hilarious than disappointing or sad at this point.
After six years of stressing over the regular season, sometimes right down to the wire, it's nice to have a break and just turn on an Orioles game without feeling particularly worried about the outcome.
I won't feel this way if it's still like this in 2021, but at least for one season, I've accepted and am almost starting to enjoy watching a very bad Orioles team.