The second half is under way, and the O’s are above .500. It has been a long time since those words have even been muttered. In a way, that makes this season a success already. Everyone in Baltimore would love for the team to make their way into the playoffs, but that would be an added bonus to an already great season.
Obviously, continued success for the next couple months will enhance the buzz at Camden Yards, which should only grow heading into the 2013 season. Nobody thought this team would win the World Series this season; it was supposed to be another year of disappointment as the second decade of the rebuild continued. With a season on inching towards a playoff appearance, the franchise is headed in the right direction.
They have a young, growing super-star, who has yet to hit his prime, to build their team and marketing campaign around. Adam Jones consecutive All-Star appearance solidifies him-self among some of the league’s best. The same concept proved very productive for teams recently; the Brewers, Rays, and Pirates (this season) have all built their offense around a youthful, middle of the order bat.
And Jones’ contract negotiations may have been a better sign for the future of the team than his performance on the field. The front office has shown a willingness to spend the money necessary to keep their core intact. This means the fans should all have the confidence that when the time comes, players like Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy will have to turn down a lot of money to leave Baltimore.
More hope occurred within the last couple weeks, as the Orioles also proved to be legit buyers for the first time since Cal played Short Stop. After acquiring Thome, with one of the first moves before the deadline, Baltimore has been rumored in deals for big names like Matt Garza and Zack Grienke. The Orioles national attention has grown drastically over this short season; their names are brought up in more and more conversations by sports analysts on national networks.
So does anyone know what’s next for the O’s for the rest of the summer? No. But continuing to pull out games, like the one on Saturday night, will keep this team in the hunt. They will be a more competitive squad than any of which the local middle schoolers have witnessed. It will be a tight race, but even without a playoff appearance, the fans should respect what this team has accomplished.
The future seems much better than it looked before the beginning of the season. Bundy and Machado have exceeded expectations, the Hammel trade and Japanese acquistions proved worth-while and players like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Jim Johnson have proven this team is ready to get their name back in the race.