Taking advantage of this slowish news week in the HoCo, I am compelled to write about Baltimore's OTHER sporting birds: the Baltimore "OH-ree-ulls", as the legendary Charley Eckman used to say. Or "Orioles" to the rest of us.
As of this writing, it is shown that the O's currently sit on top of the American League East, widely regarded as the toughest division in baseball. They have one of baseball's best won-loss records. If you don't believe me, look at the orange and black awesomeness here.
So is this year finally the season? Not even talking about remaining in contention; is this the Orioles' first winning season since 1997?
Well, there are still three-quarters of the season remaining, but for the first time in a good 6-7 years, it could be. This team is doing it using two thirds of the Earl Weaver method of pitching, defense and three-run homers. The starting pitching has been overall, very good, and closer Jim Johnson appears to have matured into his role. And speaking of maturing, many of the O's bats-- center fielder Adam Jones, catcher Matt Wieters, left fielder Nolan Reimold, leadoff man Xavier Avery-- appear to have matured or are almost there, joining the team's already established star, right fielder Nick Markakis. Timely hitting and the ability to come back from a deficit have been hallmarks of the O's rise this season. This team battles back!
What could still screw this team up? Lots of things. One, defense. The O's defense ranks at the bottom of the major leagues. Two, neither the pitching nor the hitting truly being as good as advertised. Pitchers and hitters alike will have to adjust as the season goes on. Three, injuries. The Orioles appear to have more organizational depth than they've had in years. That's still not syaing much though. A couple key injuries could really break the O's mojo.
Still, this team has become fun to watch as it clashes heads with the big boys of the American League. Here's to meaningful baseball being played at Camden Yards come September!