2012 Orioles Bucked The Odds
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
The 2012 Orioles bucked the odds all year long, up until the bitter end, a 3-1 complete-game loss to Yankees ace CC Sabathia during the deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series. The loss means that the Yankees will move forward for a seven-game series against the Central division-winning Detroit Tigers.
For the Orioles, the loss causes an abrupt end to a magical season. This bunch of grinders, aided by a vaunted bullpen and an unusual penchant for winning close games, seemed ready to defy the naysayers and the almost-always large odds against them.
The Orioles, for all their uplifting moments this year, never had a dominant No. 1 starter who could potentially turn them into a heavy favorite during a playoff series. In fact, only young right-hander Chris Tillman, who showed flashes of brilliance, could possibly develop into that go-to guy in the rotation, and he didn't get a starting nod during the postseason.
Don't get me wrong -- with Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and maybe even Miguel Gonzalez in the picture, the god-awful pitching days of the last few years may be (knock on wood, O's fans) gone. Additionally, there are starters such as Joe Saunders, Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Dylan Bundy vying for spots. That doesn't even include starters-turned-relievers such as Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter.
Although this surprising season has come to an end, the front-office brass down to manager Buck Showalter to his staff to the fans should feel proud of the organization's progress.
In one of the most positive and surprising developments, the biggest plus for the Orioles may have been the reemergence of owner Peter Angelos as an engaged owner. After years of shying away from public statements and public displays of his position as managing general partner, Angelos twice visited his team's locker room after games against the Yankees -- once in Baltimore after a Game 2 victory and once again after the season-ending loss to the Yankees.
Angelos even called out the Yankees and promised that the Orioles would be perennial contenders once again. Those words must have been sweet music to general manager Dan Duquette as he'll turn from swallowing the bitter pill of the season ending, and move toward making sure the Orioles build upon and sustain their success in 2012.
Can Duquette use some emerging talent to make a couple of key trades? Can the club develop or acquire someone like Sabathia or Justin Verlander, who can truly be the No. 1, to make contention a birthright? Can and will Duquette have the financial wherewithal to retain some key pieces such as Chris Davis, Mark Reynolds and Jim Johnson? Can the Orioles purchase one more bat?
One great season was a lot of fun, but the larger goal should now be to turn Birdland into a southern equivalent of Red Sox nation, with the real reward being a decade of unquestioned contention. The days and nights of filling Camden Yards with more than three million fans throughout the season may have been lost with the Nationals' arrival and the birth of MASN, but the orange-clad fans in Baltimore were truly a sight to behold, and that has been perhaps this summer's most exciting development.
Posted Oct. 13, 2012