I have been a fan of the Orioles through the Doldrum Decade, which is slowly creeping on a Doldrum Quarter Century. I have seen the highs of 2005 (warning -- painfully high praise from Peter Gammons makes the collapse hurt worse) and the lows...of 2005.
But I can't remember a year where the expectations for this team were lower.
In the late '90's, the team was in a rough patch and was presumed to return to 1997 playoff form.
In the early 2000's, the team was one "power hitting first baseman" away from turning things around. (Warning: Do not say "power hitting first baseman" around any long term Orioles's fan. In fact, just buy them a beer and go on your way).
2005 was the year the ship had been righted.
2005 was the year the ship sank.
By the late 2000's, Andy MacPhail had been hired to rebuild our farm system. A disgruntled base was told that this would take a while to cure, but we were taking the right medicine. The farm system was stocked with young guns and MacPhail pulled off some encouraging trades that brought in Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Luke Scott, and other team favorites. While we watched the losses tick away, we heard of this guy named Matt Wieters and a stable of young pitchers with the names Matusz, Britton, Patton, and Arrieta. We started sayin "In MacPhail We Trust" as if a mere proximity between M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards would transmit some equality between the teams.
2011 was the year. We weren't playoff bound, but over .500 was the standard, and we were told to expect it. We did. The team started out on fire with 4 straight wins and series victories against Tampa, Detroit, and Texas. Zach Britton was considered a top contender for Rookie of the Year and the team looked like they were having a good time. Buck Showalter was the cat's pajamas (as always) and made people think things were actually different.
But then it fell apart. Matusz was hurt...then bad. Britton was hurt...then bad. Arrieta was great...then hurt. We finished the season playing a part in one of the greatest nights in baseball history, but there was nothing lasting about Robert Andino "Red Sox Killer." Went to the offseason figuring things would always be the same and the Orioles would always lose.
So that's where we are now. These are just the "lovable O's" similar to a cute dog that messes on a carpet. You can't get rid of him, but you also are getting tired of the mess.