Welcome to the 2022 baseball season. The Orioles face the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday. An afternoon road opener at The Trop is what us deeply scarred O’s fans might call The Mike Gonzalez Special.
Mike Gonzalez took over as the O’s closer in 2010. The high-priced veteran reliever came to a squad hoping to end its run of a dozen consecutive losing seasons. Spoiler alert: It didn’t even come close to happening.
Some were hopeful headed into 2010: “After 12 straight losing seasons, optimism is high in Baltimore that 2010 could be the season the Orioles move back over the .500 mark … The starting nine is arguably as good as any in baseball. The question for the Orioles is all about whether the team has the pitching to become competitive.”
Others, less so: “Why would the Orioles sign an expensive veteran reliever to close in 2010? If the team was a contender, I could see it. But this team is not a contender and an expensive closer is a luxury that losing teams cannot afford. I am a little perplexed by the deal.”
Gonzalez demonstrated immediately that the pessimism was more warranted as he completed the first leg of a rare season-opening double-double. Gonzalez blew the save in the road opener before blowing the home opener just a few days later.
The 2010 Orioles started 1-10 on their way to a 96-loss season that featured three different managers: Dave Trembley, Juan Samuel, and Buck Showalter.
The O’s traded Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers in August 2011 for a player to be named later that ended up being Pedro Strop.