Baltimore Orioles: Is Toronto really that good?
The Baltimore Orioles are currently battling both Toronto and New York for play off positioning. Heck, they’ve basically been doing so all season long. (Some might argue that they’ve been battling Toronto since last off season’s Dan Duquette battle, but that’s a different story.) Toronto’s been the flavor of the month since re-working their roster at the trade deadline. But are they as good as advertised overall?
Make no mistake about the fact that Toronto’s a good team. And for the record, they’ve been a thorn in the Orioles’ side for some time – not just this year. When the Orioles went to the post season in 2012 for the first time since 1997, it’s like they realized that they were being left out of the AL East party. So in no way am I suggesting that they aren’t a good team. The question is whether or not they’re just good, or of championship caliber.
Courtesy of Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
First off, as I said above they re-made their team at the trade deadline last month. And who says that they’re finished? They could still make trades through waivers in August – just as the Orioles can, for the record. I’m in favor of teams using the trade deadline to add a piece that could help them. The O’s, among other teams did this with various players. However I’m not sure the idea behind the trade deadline is to re-tool one’s roster. Toronto fans might argue that they were good before, but now they’re great. And they might be right, who knows.
The national media also is having a field day throwing out the fact that they’re the first team in over 50 years to have two eleven-game winning streaks in the same season. Make no mistake about the fact that this is impressive. The degree of difficulty in doing something like that is totally intangible. And yes, it takes a degree of skill to do this.
However if you look at their record, it’s also as strong as it is largely because of those winning streaks. Any random good team might go 7-4 over a span of eleven games (give or take a game or so). So if you factor that into their record, they in theory would take a step backwards in a sense.
Some folks might say that this same logic could be applied to a team such as the 2014 Orioles. Maybe it could for all I know. But that team, much like this year’s incarnation, never went on an elongated winning streak. I’m not suggesting that winning streaks are bad, but you’d be remiss not to admit that one of that length is a bit of a stretch for most teams. I don’t want to take away from their feat by calling it an anamoly, however there might be something to that.
Part of winning eleven straight games (twice) in Toronto’s case is that they’re an incredibly loose and free team. They aren’t bound by the pressures of conforming to behaving a certain way, and they very much let it fly by wearing their emotions on their sleeves. Contrast this with the Orioles, who carry a bit more of a reserved approach to the game. So should the O’s be more like Toronto?
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My answer to that will always be a resounding NO. If Toronto wants to behave in the manner that they do, that’s fine. At some point if they go overboard they’ll have to pay the piper in a sense. Granted you win eleven straight games by being loose, and the Orioles don’t have the ability to act that way – it’s just not in their makeup. But while that looseness might well lift a good team into a light where they look great, baseball’s also a game of conformity.
This is not to call out Toronto, because the fact is that they’re a good team. However I’m saying that there’s a difference between being good and using a slight amount of smoke in mirrors so as to suggest that you’re of a championship caliber. For all I know I’m way off and they are a championship caliber team. History – future history, that is – will be the judge of that. But the fact is that sometimes steadiness is better suited for greatness than spurts of emotion.
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