It's been a while since I've written about current baseball. I've certainly tweeted about it plenty, but I'm just not as interested in discussing the present as I am the past. When it comes to baseball, at least, although that observation might apply to my real life as well. I suppose I could have come up with a Jethro Tull influenced title to this post if I really wanted to.
But, that would have missed the point really.
One of the subjects I've commented about on Twitter from time to time is the 2012 Baltimore Orioles. In fact, it started before the season even began when I made a crack about a "poorly timed" wedding (I don't really mean this, of course) in Baltimore in October. The obvious joke was there was no way I was going to be able to work a baseball game into that trip as there was zero chance baseball would still be being played.*
*OK, forget that Washington is only an hour from Baltimore.
I'm pretty sure there weren't too many Orioles fans who would have taken exception with that crack. But, the Orioles, as they've done before, got off to a pretty good start and have managed to remain in playoff contention through the season's first five months so far.
But, like I said, they've teased their fan base before, by having good first halves only to completely collapse in the second half. Understandably, a lot of people (myself included) decided not to take them seriously. I even commented, on more than one occasion, that I wouldn't consider them a playoff contender until they'd actually clinched a postseason berth. I was slightly exaggerating, of course, but...yeah...only slightly.
Along the way there have been plenty of remarks about how lucky the Orioles have been and how they're not as good a team as their record indicates. Frequently referenced is the fact their run differential still sits at -39, despite their 71-57 record; that this is better than only three American League teams: Kansas City, Cleveland and Minnesota; and that their Pythagorean W-L record is 60-68.
But, there is barely a month left in the season (32-34 games, depending on the team) and the Orioles are sitting atop the AL Wild Card standings, tied with the A's, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rays, 2 ahead of Detroit and 4 1/2 ahead of the Angels. Those last three teams, along with the Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox, were, of course, expected to battle to see which one of the six would be the odd team out in the playoff hunt. If the season ended today, only two of those six preseason favorites would qualify, and it looks pretty likely that at least two of them won't make it.
But, more importantly, at least to me, this morning I checked to see if the Rays had won last night. Sometimes I do so simply by looking at the standings and watching the games back (from the Yankees, of course) column update. When the Rays number changed from 4.0 to 5.0, I was pleased, but also reminded that the Rays aren't in second place. Yesterday morning—or, actually the night before last—the O's snuck in there. And there they are, just 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Maybe they're lucky. Maybe—or, more likely, probably—this year is just a fluke. Or perhaps there's a cliché that applies to this team. But—and I certainly didn't expect to be saying this prior to September—I think maybe it's actually time to perhaps start taking the 2012 Baltimore Orioles kinda seriously.
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