Baltimore Orioles came together last July

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

When last year’s schedule was released (in September of 2013) one thing that stood out at me right off the bat was the fact that the Baltimore Orioles had a LONG road trip through the AL West right out of the all-star break. That’s part of why Buck Showalter‘s O’s had the toughest schedule in baseball last year, and part of why many people now think that was done on purpose by MLB – but that’s another story. However I would submit that while that road trip was tough, the silver lining was that the O’s got their entire western road trip out of the way in one swoop. Better that than making multiple trips out there.

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

That aside, we knew it would be a key part of the season, and even coming out of the all-star break many people thought that would be what ended up killing the Birds’ season. And in fact, it started off in an inauspicious manner with the O’s dropping two-of-three in Oakland. However they went on to take two-of-three in Anaheim, and three-of-four in Seattle. All in all, the O’s headed home after a ten-game road swing out west in which they won six and dropped four.

At the time (and still) I was very impressed by that road trip. In looking back on the season, the O’s were already a good team going into and coming out of the all-star break. However they really gelled as a unit during that road swing, and I would submit that they came out of it much stronger as a team unit. However that’s part of the story of the 2014 Orioles; when they started to be written off, they’d stand up and surprise people. It happened all season.

This year (2015) the O’s will have a similar trip in the beginning of August, in which they’ll play three games in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle. The AL West of course is shaping up to be a tough division in 2015, so once again that trip might be a key moment of the season. To say the least however, they won’t have to head out that way directly out of the all-star break.

Here’s another benefit in this year’s western trip; it start directly out of a weekend. While for the Orioles’ sake it would have been nice to have a day off in between playing at home and then again in Oakland (the next night), the O’s aren’t having to make that trip in the middle of the week. Often in the past, they’d finish up a series at home with a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon matinee, before traveling out to the west coast. That’s a day game after a night game mid-week (which goes against players’ regular routines), followed by a long flight across the country and a three-hour time lag.

Granted in 2015 they’ll still have the afternoon game followed by the flight and the time difference. However players are used to playing on Sunday afternoons and then traveling, so that makes it a bit easier. And again I can’t stress enough that the O’s only have to head out that way once this year, whereas in the past there have been seasons in which they’ve made two trips.

If you want to look at key moments for this team last year, that western road trip is a big one. Nobody likes playing in Oakland, a park that’s haunted visiting teams since time immemorium. Players, writers, announcers, etc. all agree that it’s probably the worst park in baseball, and there aren’t very many people who are excited that the A’s will be there for another decade. However that’s part of the grind of the season. Take it or leave it – and in 2014, the O’s took it.