About an hour ago, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles became a playoff baseball team.

“Magic,” when you get down to brass tacks, is a way to explain the indefinable. My father-in-law, who doesn’t follow baseball, asked me last night what was so different about the Orioles this year compared to the previous 14. I tried out a couple potential answers, citing the bullpen, the power hitting, the hats, but nothing really satisfied either of us as a “reason.”

The truth is there are hundreds of reasons things are different this year. A baseball is a gargantuan, complex formula, with tangible and intangible inputs that result in a finished product. The numbers people and the old timers alike can’t point to one isolated thing that makes a team turn the corner like these Birds have.

In fact, there are a million little things different about the 2012 playoff baseball-eligible Orioles than the previous editions of the franchise. There are also a million little things that are the same. The beautiful thing is that something indefinable has happened to the team we grew up with, and the result is a playoff baseball team. Call it what you want, for lack of a better term, it’s “Orioles Magic.”

“Magic” is probably not admissible evidence in the court of baseball opinion, but whatever is driving the Orioles into October, it is very real.