This is the question that every Baltimore sports fan and myself are hoping to answer with a resounding yes as we are tired of hearing about the 15-year drought and how pathetic our baseball team is. As someone that grew up on baseball, playing recreational ball and watching the wire-to-wire years, I would love to see the Os at least keep it interesting. However, I’m not so optimistic for several reasons.
At the beginning of the season, this team was expected to be lower than rock bottom in the AL East. Honestly, I didn’t expect to even think about going to a game, let alone watching more than an inning or two of a game here or there with my grandmother as she is the most loyal fan I know even through the struggles. This team has surprised not only a lot of the fans, but also teams across the majors as they have gone into the all-star break five games over .500 and 7 games back of the Yankees. I think it’s safe to say we aren’t going to win the division this year as several things just not have gone the Orioles way, the Yankees are being the “Evil Empire” as always and dominating and the Birds have failed to take advantage of some opportunities.
However, while I may seem like I’ve been downing the Orioles, I’m a firm believer that if they hadn’t had the injuries they’ve had, they’d be a first-place ball club right now. Yes, every team goes through injuries, but losing every one of your starting outfielders at some point this season is a major loss. Nolan Reimold’s absence has been noticed as the Orioles have yet to find a consistent replacement out in left. Nick Markakis’ wrist injury has brought guys like Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty to the outfield where they don’t belong. Luckily, Markakis will return after the break. Nick Johnson, while not a significant everyday player, he has shown up in key situations for the Birds from the month of May on (we all remember his stellar April of hitting absolutely nothing.) Finally, how can we forget the absence of Brian Roberts yet again. This has turned Robert Andino into an everyday player which he may be for a lesser team, not a team that actually wants to win. Andino may have been a great fit in last year’s team and has been decent this year, but I don’t know if he has the mentality that this team seems to have this year.
Watching the games, especially all of the late-inning comebacks, it seems as if this team refuses to lay down to anyone. They want to win, they enjoy the feeling of winning and hate losing. That’s what manager Buck Schowalter has brought to this team, a sense of meaning and worth. These guys didn’t care last year if they laid an egg each and every game because they have become so accustomed to the losing ways of the Orioles from previous years. Buck has taken this team and made some unexpected noise in the toughest division in baseball and he intends to keep it that way and then some.