Playoffs?!

July 05, 2012 | Ryan Hiken

The Orioles are currently 44-37 at the halfway mark of the season.  They are on pace for their best season in 15 years.  However, this isn’t the best start to a season they have had in the last 15 years.  In 2005, the Orioles were 47-40 at the all-star break.  The Orioles have one more series before the all star break.  They begin a four game series with the Los Angeles Angels tonight in Los Angeles.  The Orioles are currently a half game back of the Angels for the first wild card spot in the American League.  This year, Major League Baseball will be adding a 5th playoff team.  The first wildcard team will be hosting a one game playoff with the 5th place team.  This series would be a preview of the one game playoff if the season were to end today.

This is about the time of year when most Oriole fans begin to write them off.  This is the mentality that the average Orioles fan has.  This is unfortunate, because this years team is different from the others.  This team has legitimate star players in Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.  The pitching staff isn’t perfect, but they have a legitimate starter in Jason Hammel and an all-star closing pitcher in Jim Johnson.  This is a formula for success, along with the leadership of Buck Showalter, the Oriole’s veteran manager.

This upcoming series will tell us a lot about this current Oriole team.  A couple of games ago the Orioles were struggling, but they went into Seattle and won 2 out of 3 games.  They probably should have swept the series, but unfortunate errors cost them the game Monday night.  The Angels began the season slow with a 7-14 record.  Since then, the Angels are 38-22 and have been one of the best teams in baseball.  The Orioles have been excellent this year, but have a combined record of 5-12 against the American League elite of NY Yankees, Texas Rangers and LA Angels.

I believe the Orioles are good, but I don’t believe they are elite.  Many people have been asking me if I think they will make the playoffs.  I think they will, because I think they haven’t played their best baseball yet.  They have been very successful against their competition outside of the elite teams.  I don’t believe they are going to surpass the Yankees and take the division, but I believe they will make the playoffs.  Therefore, I expect the Orioles to play in the inaugural one game wildcard playoff.  I think this would be incredible, especially if the Orioles could host the game.  The Orioles haven’t played a meaningful game in  Baltimore since 1997, I think its about time.  Fans need to get on the bandwagon now, before its too late.  Believe in this team, don’t write them off and go out to the games and support the team.

Come September, when the Orioles are hosting the first ever one game wildcard playoff, its going to be the hardest ticket in town to get in the last 15 years.  The Orioles need to win at least two games in this series to guarantee their best winning percentage before the all-star break since the 1997 season, when they lost in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians.  If the Orioles can manage to do this, I think it says a lot about them as a team.  If they get swept I think that will also say a lot about them.  That is why I believe this series is so important.

It is important to head into the all-star break with momentum, now is a great time to do so, and make a statement to the rest of the league.  The Orioles are a good team, they will remain competitive for the rest of the season and they are not to be messed with.  The Orioles have the 2nd best winning percentage in the MLB in one run games with a record of 15-6.  The Orioles are also one of two teams to have a winning record and a negative run differential.  This just goes to show, the Orioles are a tough, gritty and nasty baseball team.  I wish the Orioles the best of luck this weekend in Los Angeles, watch the games, root for your home team and let the chips fall where they may.  I know there is a lot of baseball left to be played, but I think we will know where the Orioles stand come Monday.

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