The Detroit Tigers are in town this weekend, the first series of the second-half, and are on fire. Detroit has, with the win friday, won six in a row, are coming off of a sweep of the Kansas City Royals and have their three best pitchers starting in the series. Taking them down and containing a top-10 offensive team in every major category will not be easy. Perhaps the reason winning this weekend is important isn’t just because they are playing a team not that far out of the Wild Card race, but because Baltimore needs to avoid their own self-fulfilling prophecy.
It is no secret what everyone is waiting for, the slide. For the last few season the O’s have started strong and then faded as the season has gone along. Despite that, every year when they start hot, fans seem to think they are on their way back to prominence. This year though, the fans seem to have stayed pessimistic, thinking the team is still destined for failure.
On a Friday, with the Orioles in playoff position, one would expect Oriole Park at Camden Yards to be filled to capacity. Yet, the park was maybe half full and even that could be a generous assumption. It is almost as if the fanbase is just waiting for the slide and with the team in the midst of a three-game slump where they have lost four of five, many probably are wondering if the slide is here.
A win in this series though, would give the team confidence and the fan base a little bit more life. Perhaps that is what the team needs more than anything, confidence. To know the slide isn’t coming and they can win games. Knowing they can compete can be a huge part of being a successful team and maybe it is the thing the O’s need to finish above .500 for the first time since 2001.
Is this a perfect team? Aboslutely not, but it is a competitive team, something O’s fans haven’t had in a while. Despite the team not winning on Friday, they still have the pieces to have a productive winning season, which should be the goal. To many, it may sound like a defeatist attitude, not gunning for a playoff spot. Rome was not built in the day though, and is it going to be that bad for O’s fans if the team finishes with a winning record but not a playoff birth? Probably not, in fact it would be their best season in a decade.
Right now, it is all about stringing together wins and believing the team is good enough to compete in the league, something it hasn’t been for a while. There are so many questions and speculations flying around about whether the Orioles need to make a move at the deadline to put them over the top, but with an organization building itself back to promenance, that cannot be move made when the goal should be to simply keep winning.
Yes, they need starting pitchers and yes they need consistent batters, but more than anything the Baltimore Orioles need to remember how to win. If they can do that, they will continue to win as an organization.
Even though a winning season, but not a great season, this year is not what fans want, it is definitely a step in the right direction. Once the O’s get back on the winning track, if they can string some strong games together, they will finish above .500 but just miss a shot at postseason glory. Coming up just short though, should set them up to succeed next year.