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Orioles 2012: Postmortem

I’ve had a hard time writing this post. I’ve started, then stopped, at least three or four times. A hell of a season came to a close up there in Yankee Stadium last Friday night. There’s a lot to process.

One thing I know we must do, first, is remember.

Back in March these Baltimore Orioles were slated for failure, locally and nationally, by everyone with an opinion. I can’t recall a single prediction of .500 or better and I know nobody was crazy enough to suggest, let alone predict, a playoff appearance.

By way of example, Mr. Ken Rosenthal — as sad a hack as you’ll find working today, but that’s another story — said: …this sorry franchise…is headed for its 15th straight losing season.

(For fun, click that link to see how Rosenthal also predicted that we wouldn’t sign Adam Jones and would, instead, “do nothing.”)

I know nobody has forgotten how bad this team was supposed to be, but I want everyone to remember it with purpose. This team was supposed to be awful. Some folks — it doesn’t matter who — said they’d lose a hundred.

So, take just a moment to remember how things looked and felt in March. Really remember. Because when you do that, you’ll be forced to notice that what these Orioles accomplished in 2012 was so amazing that it is actually beyond impossible. It was so far out back in the spring that nobody even raised the notion for purposes of rejecting it — the fact that it wouldn’t happen was assumed as a given by everyone who talks about this team and baseball at large.

So, yeah, what happened up in New York sucks. The bats went dead at exactly the wrong time and too many guys came up short in key moments. They battled hard and conducted themselves well but the lost opportunities sting. That was a winnable series.

But, honestly, I don’t care.

The theoretical goal for every team, every year, is a championship. But we know baseball and we know that championships don’t just happen like that. For most teams that mountain has to be climbed in increments. Getting there is more of a two, three, four season process.

By that measure, the Orioles skipped a few grades. I think most of us would have been cool with something like 75 wins this year, 80-something next year, and then legitimate hopes of playoff contention in 2014. Instead we got way more than we hoped for.

And it’s glorious. Awesome. Amazing. I can’t wait for February when these guys report for spring training with a fresh taste of success and a hunger to double down on it.

That said, nothing’s guaranteed. So if there’s one way to wrap up the 2012 Orioles it is this: they are no longer a laughingstock. No longer an afterthought, no longer a non-factor. They matter again.

That, my friends, is huge. Soak it up and raise a glass. These guys did it right and none of us will ever forget it.

(photo via Flickr user Keith Allison)

8 comments to Orioles 2012: Postmortem

  • g

    Great post. Spot-on analysis.
    What a fantastic season.
    See y’all in late February.

  • sci

    Simply put, the best season of sports fandom I’ve ever experienced. I will never forget it, and I miss it already.

  • Ballmer Bruce

    Most fun season ever. Cannot wait for 2013.

  • ryan97ou

    i thought for sure we wouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as 2011 since i thought that was impossible…but no WAY could i have ever imagined a HINT of what we saw this year.

    i was on my way to the beach for a wedding so i wasn’t able to watch on TV, so i tuned into 1090AM and listened in pure agony (UGH!!! REYNOLDS!—shaking fist mightily as i swerved on a bridge during the 8th), then with a breath of “wow what a season” as Joe Angel and Fred Manfra wrapped up the end of their broadcast with a fitting send off of thanks and appreciation.

    in that regard i’m really glad i was able to listen and hear it end with a local commentator, and another fan talking to me from the other end.

    it truly was an amazing season. one i won’t ever forget. that’s for sure.

    we might win again next year, and i hope we do…but not sure it will ever be like we did it this season.

    that was some orioles BLACK magic.

  • dan the man

    Great post – basically said everything we’re all thinking, I’m sure.

    Unforgettable season of Orioles baseball that was nothing short of historical. To have it happen during the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards with the statues was just a crazy bonus.

    Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  • dan the man

    I think one of the best parts of this year was how much the players jived with the fans. They played hard, they seemed like dudes you’d want to have a beer with, they urged fans to come out, they acknowledged fans when they did come out… for whatever reason, this particular group of dudes really hit a note with O’s fans. It was like the clubhouse chemistry extended to the fans and that’s pretty rare, I think.

  • dan the man

    Crazy Blue Jays trade… Loria being Loria I guess. Wow.

    TLC hiatus?

  • sci

    This Blue Jays trade actually makes me physically angry, and I’m not a Marlins fan.