This is the 2nd of 12 posts on the season past, representing a personal reflection upon some of the really stupid and few really smart comments I wrote in blog articles since last winter. These will post every other day at 3:00, allowing our other great writers prime times in the mornings and evenings.
Of course, the goal of the season is to win as many games as possible and to gain the playoffs in good standing. And again, of course, this is something that Orioles fans had not seen happen in a very long time. Several of my children have no memories of the Birds in the playoffs.
The Orioles had made a modest three-win improvement in 2011 over the prior season, yet the question marks entering Spring Training and the seasonal opener were more than just a few. Baseball writers on network and team pages all began to make their predictions as to how the season would end in the AL East. So, being an idiot like all the rest, I launched into it with my own predictions. My prognostication was part of an article where I talked about “the annual dissing of the Orioles,” quoting some of the most negative things written by others about the team—mockingly recalling how terrible this franchise is year after year. So on April 4th I wrote:
As we all know all too painfully after 14 losing seasons, there is but one thing to fix this situation … winning! That is difficult to do, especially in the AL East. Some of these comments really do hurt, because, well, they are true!
So, here is my projection for the season for the AL East with the number of wins for each team. I am thinking that it will be tighter than many other years.
Rays – 92
Yankees – 90
Blue Jays – 85
Red Sox – 83
Orioles – 76
So, yes, after being annoyed by the comments, I go ahead and put the Birds back in the basement. I fear this continues to be the reality, but 76 wins would represent progress – especially if some of the foundational pieces for the future continue to improve. That’s not enough for all our hopes and dreams, but it represents enough progress to certainly keep us out of the divorce lawyer’s office.
Well, as we now know, the Orioles ended the season with 93 wins – more than I predicted for any AL East team. I only missed by 17 games … JERK! Right? Well, let me defend myself a bit. Predicting 76 wins at that juncture was actually just about the most generous and optimistic number given by writers anywhere! So, as stupid as this looks right now, I was actually closer than the vast majority of prognosticators (but still pretty dumb!). I also did essentially foresee the demise of the Red Sox, though like others calling for the same, none could have anticipated their fall would be so precipitous. And the Blue Jays were indeed a disappointment relative to pre-season expectations, though they seem to be ratcheting-up those presumptions again.
Obviously, predicting the outcome of a 162-game season before it begins is fraught with peril. There were unprecedented numbers of injuries throughout the division that put it up for grabs for much of the season. The Orioles had their fair share of misfortune, which they handled quite frankly much better than the others in the AL East. Hence the great season, the wildcard playoffs, and all the other great things that made 2012 a year to long remember for Orioles fans.