After the Orioles took two of three from the Detroit Tigers two weeks ago at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I could sense a particularly significant level of satisfaction in Baltimore.
Fans took to social media to make statements along the lines of “biggest series win of the year” and “proof the O’s are the best team in the American League” and many more.
It was a fun series and a nice series win against a potential playoff opponent. But on that Monday’s edition of “The Reality Check”, I ruffled a few feathers by suggesting I wasn’t as enthused as many others were. My reasoning was simple. It was a nice series victory, but whatever the Orioles do against the Tigers wasn’t nearly as important as what they do against AL East opponents.
As always, there was a minority who said “this is typical. Someone at WNST is trying to marginalize the Orioles.” The rest of us know how idiotic that group is, but are forced to accept their existence.
I made sure to fortify my statement a few days later when the Orioles were crushed by the Astros on a Wednesday night in Houston. Before we knew the Birds would go on to win the series Thursday afternoon, I made sure to clarify that I wasn’t concerned if the Orioles won the series or not. What the Orioles did against an AL West opponent simply couldn’t carry the significance of a series against AL East opponents.
I didn’t waiver on those opinions the following weekend, as a series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays (even if they avoided a sweep) lead to me offering critical comments this past Monday afternoon on “The Reality Check.”
I said then that the Birds couldn’t just beat teams elsewhere in baseball and assume they would be able to make a run in the postseason. Callers told me things like “the whole division is just going to beat each other up” but none had much of a response when I said back “in order for that to happen, the O’s have to beat up SOMEONE.”
So I made it clear on Monday’s show-“if the Orioles spank the Boston Red Sox this week there will be no negativity. There will be no downplaying. I might well throw a parade!”
It’s with that in mind that I ask you to collect some ticker tape and meet me on Pratt Street at 3:30 or so. But if I’m running a bit late, feel free to start without me.
Kidding aside, I’m absolutely THRILLED with the results of the Orioles’ series against the Sox this weekend at OPACY. The second base debacle aside, it was a very important weekend for the Birds-easily the most significant series they’ve claimed in 2013.
There are currently four teams in the American League who have records over .500 (the Orioles, Rays, first place Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees). There are only three others in the entire American League (the Tigers, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers) who similarly find themselves with more wins than losses at the moment.
We’re far enough into the season to now that none of the four teams in the AL East is simply going to go away, no matter how many times we’ve tried to justify the potential in our own minds. The Yanks have done it despite injuries, the Rays have done it without David Price actually being David Price and the Red Sox have somehow managed to forget 2012 ever happened. For what it’s worth, the Toronto Blue Jays linger just four games under .500. But we won’t include them in the conversation until (and more likely “if”) they need to be.
All of these teams are going to be in this thing. The Orioles will not be guaranteed a postseason berth even by playing above .500 ball in the AL East. As some had wondered aloud before the season, there is a CHANCE all of these teams are finishing the season above .500. It’s far from a likelihood, but it is most certainly a possibility.
It’s with that in mind that I continue to tell everyone just how important it will be to win the games against the teams you’re competing against for the AL East crown and/or two Wild Card spots.
The Orioles play nearly half of their games (73) against division opponents. Coming into the four game set against the Sox, they had played 21 games against the three other teams above .500 in the division; holding a 10-11 record in those contests. A simple math lesson from Perry Hall High School’s Mr. Radcliffe will tell me that that record could have been anywhere from 14-11 to 10-15 after the weekend.
Follow up with Mr. Radcliffe about this, but I’m reasonably certainly 13-12 is a good bit better than 10-15…or even 12-13.
The Orioles didn’t wrap up their first division title since 1997 over the weekend. They most certainly didn’t guarantee they’d make a second consecutive trip to the postseason either.
What they did is take another significant step in that process with three gutty victories over the team sitting at the top of the standings.
That simply cannot be understated and I will not even remotely attempt to do that.
In fact, I’ve already got my “Chris Davis’ monkey” float parked outside the ballpark. It’s exactly what you think it is.