Was the Problem the Bird?
By Mike Franz
The Baltimore Orioles are good. Actually the Orioles are not just good, they are incredibly great. Never before has a team relied so heavily on the long ball and has seen as much success as the Orioles are having. The question is: How are they doing this?
Other than Nelson Cruz, nobody in the lineup is leading the Majors in any batting category. And despite the starting pitching lacking a Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez, the Orioles starters still give their team the best chance to win. To put it in blatant terms, the Orioles just work well as a unit.
Like the city of Baltimore that sometimes has a underdog mentality, this team performs at a high level and continues to win games despite what the critics at ESPN and MLB Network say. By doing this, they are not only running away with the American League East, they are arguably the best team in baseball.
For as long as I could remember, the Baltimore Orioles had trouble scoring runs; their pitching was horrendous; and it would be considered a good year when the team reached the 70-win mark.
Then some point along the line, something changed. Since 2012, this team has slowly but surely changed the entire demeanor of this team and city. The Orioles are no longer the laughing stock of the Majors; rather they are doing the laughing with the largest division lead in all of baseball.
Some would say the hiring of Dan Duquette was the leading cause for the Orioles success. Others would say it was the hiring of Buck Showalter. For me, it was the changing of the Orioles’ logo back to the cartoon bird.
In 1998, the year after the Orioles won their last division title, the Orioles changed their logo for the fourth in the ball club’s history. The team decided to change the bird on their hats and helmets to more of a “lifelike” bird from the ornithologically correct bird. During the 14 years of the bird sitting atop the players hats and helmets, the Orioles not only never made it to the playoffs but they also never hit the 80-win mark.
Then in November of 2011, the Orioles announced they would be bringing back the cartoon bird to the Orioles uniform. This is the same bird that graced the team’s uniforms when they won the World Series in 1966, 1970, and 1983. With the new bird on their caps, the team immediately saw improvements. In 2012 and 2013, the team won 93 and 85 games games respectively. And if things keep going the way they are this season, the Orioles will reach the playoffs for the second time in three years.
I am not saying the old logo was ugly, but with how this team is performing in the past three years, I would keep this cartoon bird around for a while.