In 1989 the Baltimore Orioles changed from their iconic cartoon bird logo to a more realistic looking bird. Since that time the Orioles have been one of the worst teams in baseball with only a few winning seasons. Before changing the logo the Orioles were one of the premier franchises in the game. The cartoon bird with its coy smile staring back at the pitcher of the opposing team almost seemed to hint an air of certainty and cockiness. Flash forward to 2012 and the cartoon bird is back and so, coincidentally, are the Orioles winning ways. The new uniforms with the retro look are amazing. What is also amazing is how the Orioles have found themselves back in the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and they somehow have done it without a true superstar. Buck Showalter has assembled a team of hardworking and dedicated players. Incredibly the Orioles have had a negative runs scored to runs against differential and still found a way to win over 90 games. Every Christmas I have asked me Mom for the Orioles to win the World Series. While that may not happen this year, making the playoffs is something I never thought would happen for a long time either. Each day when I check ESPN I always check the Orioles page just to make sure I haven’t been dreaming that this team won that many games. How could a team with starting pitchers like Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen win so many games? How could a team without a truly dominant defensive first baseman be this good? Are these the same Orioles that play in the same division with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays? Who are these guys and what have they done with the losing Orioles!? This season still has me in shock and I know the baseball analysts feel the same way because they kept predicting an Orioles collapse even though it never came. Get ready America because Oriole Nation has arrived for 2012.
The Orioles haven't been to the playoffs since their star studded team in 1997 that lost in the ALCS to the Indians. I work with people who can't even remember 1997. Its been more than a long decade to be an Orioles fan. Remember Albert Belle? The Palmeiro/Tejada incidents? From high priced veterans past their prime to the coaching carousel, nothing seemed to work. Or at least it seemed like ownership didn't want it to work. Local radio stations even organized raucous walkouts of Orioles' games in hopes Peter Angelos would sell the team. Things have been bad, ugly bad.
Enter 2011, and the O's start out 4-0. Pitching has been phenomenal and the young star Brian Matusz hasn't even pitched yet. So should we get our hopes up(if you are an O's fan)? No, we shouldn't This happens every year where a bad team starts out hot and flames out soon after. However, there is a rare occasion when a former horrendous team will step it up to the next level to start out the year and maintain it throughout the season. It appears manager Buck Showalter has this team going in the right direction. Since he took over the team on Aug. 3rd they have a record of 38 - 23. That is the best winning stretch in the AL East during that time period. So maybe there is something to this year's O's. If not, there is certainly some legitimate signs of things to come.
O, and the team is apparently shopping around for a fifth starter right now because of injuries. Rumor has it Jeremy Bonderman is an option.
Check out this link for a good story on the team: