First things first; I hope that all Baltimore Orioles fans join me in congratulating the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. For that matter I’ll even give honorable mention to Detroit; both teams were very deserving and they both came across as extremely humble. That’s what I like to see in a champion, especially in today’s world where it seems that if you aren’t showboating or “rubbing it in” when you win it’s almost meaningless. I would have liked to have seen Jim Leyland win a title, however he joins a long list of very worthy sports figures who have never won it all.
Interestingly enough, we saw a lot of teams simply die at the plate in the 2012 postseason. One of those teams obviously was the Orioles, who struggled to get on base at times much less score runs. The lack of production at the plate seemed to be a virus that spread from Texas in the wild card game, to the Orioles (who defeated Texas), to New York (who defeated the Orioles), and then to Detroit (who defeated New York). Obviously there’s no true correlation there – we aren’t talking about the Spanish Influenza of 1918 – but it is interesting to see that this was something that affected almost every team that played in the American League playoffs.
Coming out of the ALDS with New York many Orioles fans were grumbling about the lack of production. At the time, my attitude was that there was very little ill of which one could legitimately speak of a team that qualified for the postseason for the first time in 15 years (and in surprising fashion at that). I still feel that way, and furthermore the fact that Detroit’s bats seemed to disappear in the World Series should tell Orioles fans that “it happens.” I suppose the more cynical people will say “well it didn’t happen to San Francisco.” As I said, the more cynical folks among us might take that attitude. I suppose that I’m a firm believer in the fact that it’s tough to be overly critical of a team in the postseason because…they made it to the postseason.
There are exceptions to this rule of course. As great as they were in the 1990′s, the Atlanta Braves are legendary postseason chokers (the exception being 1995, although they won the World Series on two other occasions in two other cities). The same can be said in the NFL about the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings. (On a side note, I wonder if you could even throw the New England Patriots into that mix? They have lost their last two Super Bowls…) I suppose that if you start seeing a trend like that you have to question what’s going on to a certain point. However with the Orioles I’m not sure any of that can be questioned given the nature of this season and how it unfolded.
So I suppose my message here is that Orioles fans should not be questioning their team (if they still are at all) despite the bats disappearing in the ALDS. I would submit that nobody’s bats disappeared worse than those of the Yankees in the ALCS against Detroit. (And for the record as poor as Alex Rodriguez was hitting, I’m not sure that his benching didn’t take a psychological toll on the team in the long run.) As Orioles fans heard Jim Palmer say on MASN all season long, baseball’s a game that’s based on failure. If the pitcher misses his mark, the hitter has a chance to hit the ball a long way. If the hitter can’t catch up to the ball and strikes out, the pitcher looks like a genius. This is baseball; it’s been that way since time immemorial.
In retrospect you have to hope that if the Orioles can make it back to the postseason, guys like Adam Jones and Chris Davis might not be so over-anxious at the plate that they swing at 58-ft sliders. However at this point I’m not going to call guys out too much for that given that they had never been at that level in the past. And given the fact that the eventual American League champions looked pretty tame in the box during the World Series, Orioles fans should take hope in that…”it happens.” All of this said, at least the colors of the World Series champions were orange and black!
As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the eastern seaboard I want to say on my own behalf as well as on that of Birds Watcher and the Fansided Network that I hope all readers are safe and make it through the storm as well as they can. If you’re in the path of the storm, please heed all warnings put forth by local weather forecasters, law enforcement, etc. Coming from a maritime family, I have a healthy respect for the forces of nature and I know that it’s nothing at which to thumb your nose. Stay safe everyone!