Baltimore Orioles: The Mark of a Great Team


Do I actually HATE the New York Yankees? No, not really, not quite; but it is very true that I don’t like them much and the way they expect all borderline calls to go their way. But I do respect them and their success over the long haul. Consistent success – that is what marks a great organization and is certainly what I strove to accomplish as a long-time high school coach.

Love them or hate them, here is the thing you have to respect about the Yankees over the years: they never go away quietly. I’ve often heard it said that closing out the Yanks in the bottom of the 9th in the Bronx is “the toughest three outs in baseball.” Over the years of watching Orioles/Yankees games, even when the Orioles were winning, you just knew the Evil Empire was at least going to put some people on base at the end – and maybe beat you again like they have so often done to everyone!

From the perspective of Baltimore/DC regional fans, another evil empire in another sport is the Dallas Cowboys organization. I went to graduate school in Dallas during the late 70s and early 80s when the Pokes were a dominant football team, often winning games with mighty comebacks in the 4thquarter. They possessed this same quietly confidant demeanor that regardless of the current score, everything was just fine – modeled by their legendary coach Tom Landry. The Cowboy’s quarterback of that era – Roger Stauback – wrote a book about that team called “Time Enough to Win.” It is an attitude, a state of mind.

May 31, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Chris Dickerson (36) reacts after hitting the game winning walk-off three-run home run in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Tigers 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

This quality of “not going away easily” and always being just a couple of hits or bombs away from turning a loss into a win is becoming a trademark of the Baltimore Orioles. And I believe that this quality, as much as anything else, is what is the indicator that indeed a new era of baseball has arrived for this organization. It can be verified statistically by such accounts as varied Orioles writers pen about how the Birds “have the best win-loss percentage since _____.” But the ability to never give up and to rather work to the end in the belief that they can still win … that speaks to the issue of character and team personality – to marks of a real winner.

Buck Showalter has on numerous occasions this season commented as he did this past Wednesday when the Orioles came back from a 6-2 deficit to win 9-6, “There’s just not a whole lot of panic. I think they have a lot of faith in each other; they really do.”

The three-run walk-off homer hero of last night was Chris Dickerson – the same guy who 10 days earlier hit a pair of solo shots to keep the Orioles in a 2-2 game with the Yankees … a game where Nate McLouth would slam the walk-off solo shot in the bottom of the 10th.  Dickerson said, “If I was on the other team and I knew our team, I would have been like, ‘Uh oh, here we go again.’ That’s what I was saying to myself, I was like, ‘Well, here we go.’”

So there it is; that is the mark of when you’ve reached a special point – when the other team begins to think (at the first sign of something unraveling) that there is a pending flood of disaster about to happen. And then that thought becomes a catalyst to actually making it happen!

Adam Jones summarized this team attitude last evening by saying, “We kept fighting. There are 27 outs, and we only got 26 of them. This team, the grinding of the players … we never give anything away.”  And THAT is an attitudinal sea change from not long ago.