Why Not Us?
Baseball is a sport where change is slow, teams must build up organically and players often "regress to the mean". Unlike any of the other big 4 major US sports, baseball is a game where strategy and planning is vital. A 162 game season demands teams make hundreds if not thousands of personnel decisions each year. Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter and the rest of the Oriole staff have continually put this team in a position to succeed this season, and the team has paid them back with wins. Nobody saw this coming, heck, we had the over/under for the season at 74 wins. 74 wins and we weren't even the low end of the predictions.
So why not us then? Well, our pitching isn't terribly reliable. We're hitting Nate McLouth third in our lineup that occasionally features other offensive juggernauts like Omar Quintanilla. Half the starting lineup at any given point this season was comprised of bench guys, role players, AAAA guys or minor league journeymen.
We've won a completely unsustainable number of 1-run and extra inning games. If you listen to the industry pundits, our run differential is the most absurd thing they've ever encountered in a winning team.
After 15 years O's fans have begun to expect the team to falter. Every dip in performance is expected to be the beginning of the end for this fairy tale. When the team struggled earlier this summer O's fans jumped off the bandwagon because it's not fashionable to support a team like the Orioles.
This is our time damnit. Adam Jones has risen to the level of the elite CF in baseball, and is the superstar that Baltimore and the Orioles have missed since guys named Ripken, Murray, and Robinson gave O's fans something to cheer about. The young guys like Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, Dylan Bundy and more have fans buzzing about the minor leagues and flocking to the yard to see these kids play.
Wei-Yin Chen has been a huge find for the O's, as has Jason Hammel's resurgence. Guys like Steve Johnson, Miguel Gonzalez and others have stepped in and filled holes with good starts for the team. They've battled through injuries and their strong bullpen has given the team 51 wins when they lead after 7 innings.
This team isn't sexy. This isn't Detroit with their 800 pounds of man hitting 3-4-5. This isn't the Angels who have the former and current best players in baseball in their lineup everyday. We're not the Yankees with a $200 Million payroll. We don't have a reliable rotation like the Nationals or famous owners like the Dodgers.
This Orioles team is fun, and above all else, they win. I don't know if this team will catch the Yankees and Rays to win the division. They certainly could, but they might not. I don't know if this team will beat out the Tigers or White Sox and Angels to get in the wild card this season. They certainly could, but they might not.
I'm not really worried about the O's making the playoffs this season. This season has been fun and I'm just trying to take it all in. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a series of runs into the playoffs for the team, and I'm just glad to be a part of it. Are you?
There's magic in the air folks.