O’s Partying Like It’s 2012? Not So Fast!

| September 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

baltimore-orioles-cartoon-birdIn 2012 the Baltimore Orioles shocked the sports world by winning 93 games and making the playoffs for the first time after 15 straight losing seasons. During that season, the O’s hit home runs, were unbelievable in one-run and extra-inning games, and seemingly every reserve player they put in the lineup – or brought up from the minors – contributed. It was a truly special season and one that revived the love for the O’s in Baltimore.

Now, two seasons later, the Orioles are running way with the division, holding a nine-and-a-half game lead against the Yankees, and, barring a major collapse, will make the playoffs like they did in 2012. However, while this team compares somewhat to the 2012 team, the Orioles won’t be “partying like it’s 2012” this season – and that is a good thing.

The Orioles are now 139 games into the 2014 season and currently have a 82-57 record, and stand just a couple games behind the Angels for the best record in all of baseball. It is (fairly) safe to say there will be October baseball at Camden Yards once again. Every Orioles fan who has lived and died with every pitch for the last 15 years knows how special 2012 was and how not to take for granted that the Orioles will make the playoffs.

This season has been unique as we have seen the Orioles run away with the division since the All-Star break, not leaving (too) much drama or doubt as to if they will make the post-season. It really has been quite refreshing. When I look back at the season, I see a team that genuinely cares for each other and like playing the game. They never get too high after a win and never too low after a loss. They hit home runs, their starting pitching has “overachieved,” and their bullpen (especially the back end) is the best in baseball. If they have the lead after the 7th inning, the game is almost certainly over. Those were the same characteristics that defined the 2012 team, however, this team is far different and I believe their playoff fate will be much different than two seasons ago for a few reasons.

Despite all of the similarities I mentioned, this team is just flat out more talented than the 2012 team. Their lineup is more potent, their pitching is better, and just all around, man for man, they are better across the board. In 2012, the Orioles came out of nowhere to make the playoffs, they were the “hunters,” and this year they are the hunted. They now have that “taste” and know what it takes to win in October. They didn’t have Nick Markakis in the playoffs in 2012 (they do now) and Adam Jones believed he had to carry the team and had a miserable ALDS (he should be much better this year). And, now, the lineup – from top to bottom – is much better. What team in the American League really scares the Orioles or is far superior than them? None, really.

Kansas City has not made the playoffs since 1984. While they can pitch, their lineup and lack of playoff experience shouldn’t favor them against the Orioles, and on paper the O’s are the far superior team. Oakland beat the Orioles in the regular season series, but has scuffled since trading their best offensive player for John Lester. Sure, their rotation is good, but how many playoff wins do Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel have? And, if you walk Josh Donaldson every at bat, who else in the A’s lineup will hurt you? Brandon Moss, that’s about it.

The Angels will likely finish with the best record in baseball, but the Orioles are 4-2 against them this season and that was before the Angels lost their best starting pitcher for the season. The O’s have beaten the Angels twice in Anaheim this season, so there is no reason they can’t do it again in October. The Mariners are similar to the Royals, but with slightly better pitching. While I wouldn’t want to face King Felix twice in a five-game series, I like the Orioles’ overall team much better than the Mariners.

Lastly, there are the Tigers. This is the one team I don’t believe the O’s match up well with and the team that scares me the most. However, since the All-Star break, the Orioles have ran away with their division while the Tigers lost their division lead and will be in a dog fight just to make the playoffs, so there is something to be said about that. If the Tigers were “that” good than why did they struggle down the stretch? If the O’s face the Tigers in the playoffs it will be a tough, but not insurmountable, test. I know in October anything is possible and any one player can get hot and carry their team to the World Series, but I truly believe that, unlike in 2012, the path to the World Series for the Orioles is a clear one.

2012 was a magical season, but the 2014 season has a good chance of being a championship one. I recommend not putting away your orange and black until late October – you will likely need it until that time.

So do the O’s win the World Series? To steal a famous saying in this town, “Why Not!”

About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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