Orioles Hot Streak is Refreshing
No matter what part of the season we are in or what scenario the Red Sox face, I am a Red Sox fan through and through. Ultimately, I am a fan of the sport of baseball and enjoy watching surprise success. I love incredible catches and clutch hits when a team needs them the most and watching the underdog succeed. After the Red Sox lost to the lowly Orioles last night, I couldn’t help but be happy for a franchise that has plummeted to the basement of the AL East over the 13 seasons, finishing above 4th once (3rd in 2004) since winning the division in 1997. Since Buck Showalter took over the club 27 games ago, the Orioles have the best record in the division at 17-10. They are still 33 games back in 5th place and 20 games behind the 4th place Toronto Blue Jays, but some positive momentum is fun to watch.
I know some of you are sitting there scratching your heads saying, “How the hell can you be happy the Sox lost to the crappy Orioles last night?” The answer is simple. I am not happy the Sox lost, but if their season is over, why not be happy for a club that has nothing going for them. The Orioles have just 49 wins on the season after last night, 25 fewer than the Red Sox and good for 2nd to worst in all of MLB and that’s after their 17-10 recent surge. For obvious reasons a win for the Orioles means a helluva lot more to them than a loss to the Red Sox and is more impressive, because the Orioles are already statistically eliminated from the playoff hunt (even though that informally happened in April) and are fighting harder than the Sox. As Red Sox fans, we know the team is going to be competitive every year thanks to their high payroll and deep farm system. Even in a rebuilding year the Sox are in the hunt for October, where in contrast, the Orioles have been rebuilding since the late 90’s and haven’t had a winning season since that point.
The Orioles have a young team, as per the usual with a mid-low payroll club (18th highest in baseball). They have some promising young pitchers (Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Jake Arrieta) and a handful of top tier young position players as well (Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Felix Pie and Nick Markakis). The problem for the Orioles is the potential vs. current abilities. Only 2 members of their starting rotation have eras under 5, the 1st being Brian Matusz at 4.72 and the best being 31-year old Jeremy Guthrie at 3.94. From the offensive perspective, only 2 batters have averages about .280 (Nick Markakis and Luke Scott). To be truly honest, most of the poor numbers is because the Orioles just can’t compete in the AL East day-in and day-out against the mighty rotations and lineups of the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.
Because of all the negatives listed above, it makes the Orioles recent success even more impressive, even though it is probably short-lived. Ultimately, I enjoy watching success at the highest level, especially from unexpected teams and players. I’m certainly not jumping ship and heading over to the Orioles bandwagon (is there even a bandwagon?), but I do find it refreshing to watch one of the worst teams in baseball have a little success, even at the expense of the Sox. Let’s face it, rooting for the underdog takes my mind off the lost 2010 Red Sox campaign.