Looking back 2010 seems like a different time for the Baltimore Orioles. Midway through the season the O’s had easily the worst record in the majors and no signs of improving their fortunes in the years to come. But then came the savior, for a club struggling to remember its glory days; Buck Showalter descended from the heavens (ok it was from ESPN but my thing sounds better) and breathed hope into a team that had not tasted glory since 1998.
But I, like most Orioles fans, am an incredible pessimist. I have tasted so much disappointment while following this franchise that it just comes with the territory. Lucky for Buck this is a franchise with very little expectations.
He took a little bit, last season was just another in the Orioles recent futilities, but this year the Orioles have been injected with something it hasn’t seen since Cal Ripken Jr. retired.
Confidence. It’s an understated word in sports but it that one thing that can turn a pretender into a contender.
Go right now and watch an Orioles loss from 2 years ago, look really close at each of the players. What do you see? Anger? Disappointment?
No that thing you are seeing is a complete lack of caring. This team knows it is bad and does not truly expect to win its games. Now do the same thing but with this year’s squad. Do you see that? This is not the same team from two years ago; they don’t just go into games hoping for a win. They go into games expecting to win.
And it’s all thanks to the Buck.
His experience and talent as a manager has brought this franchise back to a place it hasn’t been for 15 years. The fans are excited, the players are excited, and the whole city can feel a new era is dawning for the Orioles.
Now don’t get me wrong I still think that the Orioles are going to collapse and finish in last place in a very strong AL East, I’m an Orioles fan I’m bred to expect failure. But for the first time in my memory I have hope for the future of the franchise. Even if you exclude Buck the Orioles have the look of a playoff team.
The Orioles are one of the younger teams in the majors and will only continue to grow in the years to come. One player is over 30 in the starting lineup, and the two real stars on the team are only 26. Adam Jones is putting up MVP level numbers this season after signing a long term contract and Matt Wieters is the reigning gold glove catcher in the American League.
The final piece to the Orioles playoff puzzle doesn’t actually lay with the team. Rather it lies with the decline of the once unstoppable AL East. The Yankees are getting old and the Red Sox have a lot of internal problems that do not look to be solvable in the short term. Things set up for the Orioles and the Rays to compete at the top of the division for years to come.
In 10 years we will look back on this season as a turning point for things to come. And to think it was just two years ago that the Orioles were 32-73 and last place in the majors.