Since football season started I’ve deviated from writing about the O’s. I don’t have a solid excuse, but I think right now would be a good time to throw my two cents in.
After last years accomplishments, a playoff appearance and the first winning season in 15 years, there were a lot of unrealistic expectations for the Orioles going into this season. And true to form, a lot of unexpected trials and accomplishments occurred this season.
Who honestly expected Chris Davis would hit 53 homeruns entering the season? I imagined 30+, at best. Who predicted Matt Wieters would have one of his worst offensive years at the plate, Nate McLouth leading the league in stolen bases for a short period, Tommy Hunter solidifying the backend of the bullpen, Jim Johnson leading the league in blown saves after having 51 saves the previous year, Flaherty hitting under .100 to start the season, Kevin Gausman making his major league debut thrown 97MPH heaters, A Giants fan throwing a banana at Adam Jones, or Brian Roberts actually staying healthy for the better part of a season? I honestly could go on and on, but you get the point.
A certain sports writer with frosted tips and the initials N.A. asked the question, “One playoff apperence in the past 16 seasons, how can fans be ‘ok’ with that?” on Twitter, right before he accused Peter Angelos of being a flag burner (I kid.). To be honest, I’m much more than ‘ok’, I’m ecstatic and jubilant, for one big reason.
The Orioles proved they weren’t the fluke form 2012.
Two winning season for the first time in 15 years, the O’s proved they can compete on a consistent basis, and, boy, the future has never looked brighter on the Baltimore skyline.
A plentiful farm system with lots of competition of both old and young players. Pitcher Dylan Bundy will be coming back from Tommy John surgery, and if he shows even a shadow of his ‘number one prospect in the nation’ self, he’ll be able to contribute. Infielder Johnathan Schoop has already open some eyes by hitting a homerun in his first major league appearance. Kevin Gausman looks like he’s big league ready and will be fighting for a spot on the roster come Spring Training. Plenty of other pitchers Mike Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, and even former first-round pick Matt Hobgood are slowly making names for themselves.
Most of this years’ squad will be back as well, Brian Roberts, Nate McLouth, Jason Hammel, Scott Feldman, and Francisco Rodriguez pending. Chris Davis, who hits mammoth homeruns, Manny Machado, whose glove is made of gold and is becoming a better hitter, and Matt Wieters, a cannon behind home plate with 30+ homerun potential. Miguel Gonzalez, throwing his nasty splitter, Chris Tillman, the workhorse and current “ace”, Bud Norris, the new guy who wants to contend, and Wei-Yin Chen, the Taiwanese lefty with the changeup that leaves hitters scratching their heads. Again, I could go on and on.
What I think I’m trying to say is that this season is bittersweet, the Orioles didn’t make it to the playoffs, but next year looks that much better. They have the talent to succeed, so why can’t they? Buck likes his guys, Josh Sroka likes his hat, and I like the O’s chances in 2014.