First off I want to send well wishes on my own behalf as well as on that of Birds Watcher to manager Buck Showalter, who’s undergoing surgery on his right knee today. If my memory serves me Showalter’s had some knee/back/hip issues since starting with the Orioles in August of 2010. As the season wore on I grew increasingly sympathetic to him as he’d have to labor his way out to the mound to make pitching changes. Here’s to hoping that the surgery is a success and that Showalter has a quick recovery.
The Detroit Tigers are currently up on the New York Yankees 3-0 in the American League Championship Series; in other words, New York is facing elimination. Seeing the Yankees bow out of the playoffs in an anti-climactic manner such as a sweep would probably be poetic justice in the eyes of many Baltimore Orioles fans. However let’s not forget that it could have been the Orioles that were playing Detroit right now. It’s fun to wonder what would have been or could have been, so do we have any way of knowing how the Orioles would have played against Detroit? The Tigers took two-of-three from the O’s at Camden Yards in July, however the Orioles returned that favor at Comerica Park in August. So in that sense the series would have been fairly even, similar to the series against New York.
The Orioles had four hitters that hit under the Mendoza line in the postseason; New York has seven. We’ve all seen the controversies regarding Alex Rodriguez (among others) and the Yankee lineup; odds are the Orioles wouldn’t have had that distraction. New York also has a higher staff ERA than that of the Orioles, even given Jim Johnson’s five-run ninth inning in game one of the ALDS. However I think that the main thing that’s affecting the Yankees right now is chemistry. The only true leader that they have is Derek Jeter, and he’s out for the season with a broken ankle. The Orioles were much more of a team than the Yankees this year, with New York having a lot of individuals playing on the same side. You never would have heard anyone on the Orioles complaining that fans were blaming them for someone getting hurt, or complaining about being boo’d in their home park. (I’m not on board with hometown fans booing their own, but I don’t think players should complain about it either.)
One other interesting factoid is that had the Orioles won the ALDS the series would have been structured slightly different. Games one and two would have been in Detroit, and we’d be playing games at Camden Yards right now. Whether or not that would make a difference is another story, but looking at how Justin Verlander pitched last night I’m not sure it would have. The big disadvantage that Detroit has now and that they would have had if they had played the Orioles is that Verlander probably won’t be able to pitch again in the series. I think it’s going to be over before that would be an issue, but the fact is that you never know. For the record, I think that Detroit is on a roll at the moment, and I’m not sure that the Orioles would have beaten them. I do think however that they would have put up a much better fight than we’re seeing out of New York right now, and tonight’s game certainly wouldn’t have been an elimination game. However that’s baseball for you; it’s similar to the NFL in that on any given (Sun)day, anyone can beat anyone. Honestly even with all of their turmoil, I’d be surprised if New York was swept in this series…however the end is near.