5 Reasons Why Baltimore Orioles Must Make 2012 Postseason
Though the Baltimore Orioles won just three more games in 2011 than they did in 2010, the way they finished the season was completely marvelous. The Birds finished September with a 14-10 record versus contending playoff teams, including taking five of seven from the Red Sox to eliminate them from playoff contention.
Last year, with a 34-23 finish down the stretch, Birdland's aspirations were high, but by the time this season progressed they crashed back down to Earth. However, with this fantastic finish, it seems that next year they will finally have another winning season and make it to the postseason.
So, here are five reasons why they must clinch a playoff spot in 2012.
5. Fleet Don't MacPhail Me Now
In late August 2011, it was announced that Andy MacPhail, the Orioles general manager, would not return in 2012.
The Orioles fanbase seems divided on MacPhail's era. He has received praise for 2007's risky trade of Erik Bedard to the Mariners for four players, including Chris Tillman and Adam Jones, who has since made an All-Star appearance, is a Gold Glove recipient and has molded into a five-tool player.
He's also responsible for the well-accepted hire of Buck Showalter and urging the mantra "grow the arms, buy the bats," a strategy devised to win with little use of free agency and trades and a lot of farm-system material.
Yet MacPhail's dissidents criticize the hiring of Dave Trembley as manager (career managerial percentage of .398) and the "rebuilding plan" being at a standstill.
However, the plan and the mantra may have to remain intact. Otherwise, the Orioles will go nowhere.
4. Talk Isn't Cheap
The Red Sox rivalry with the Yankees always seem heated; their battles with the O's seem to become a towering inferno.
The thrilling comebacks, passionate fanbases and virtually identical sizes of their respective areas sure make these two each other's doppelgangers.
There's also a sense of disgust with one another, particularly with the June 8 bench-clearing affair.
In that game in Fenway Park, Kevin Gregg constantly threw inside to David Ortiz for plate crowding. Once Ortiz hit a fly ball to center, both he and Gregg shouted obscenities and launched at each other for a fight.
In the post-game interview, Gregg blasted the Red Sox:
We're not scared of them—them and their $180 million payroll. We don't care. We're here to play the game. We have just as much right to play the game here and we're going to do everything we can to win...They're going to whine and complain about it because they think they're better than everybody else.
This coupled with the O's resilience to deny the Red Sox a trip the ALDS ignites a "put up or shut up" time for Baltimore.
3. And Then They Were Three
In August 2010 during his press conference introduction as the Orioles' new manager, Buck Showalter claimed the Major League Baseball had three leagues: the American League, the National League and the American League East.
The Orioles, of course, are in the grueling latter. Since 2007, when Andy MacPhail became the O's GM, the Red Sox and the Yankees each captured a World Series title, the Rays punched three postseason tickets and the Blue Jays have played .500 or better baseball in four of the last five seasons.
To prove the great Showalter's theory, the Orioles must contend for World Series title next year.
2. Natty? No!
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Since 2005, attendance at Camden Yards has dwindled drastically for a pair of reasons: losing baseball in Charm City and a new team in the District.
The Nationals have lost 100 games thrice in their seven-year existence (the O's only have three 100-loss seasons in 58 years). However, the Nats also accomplished two .500 seasons (2005, 2011). This combined with the big signing of Jayson Werth and the emergence of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper is already blood in the water.
If it wants to bring its fanbase back, Baltimore must capitalize (no pun intended) on its D.C. brethren.
1. Will Someone Please Think of the Children?
In the aughties—that is 2000 to 2009—the Orioles are the only team in the Baltimore metro area, major league or minor league, professional or collegiate, not to make it to the postseason, let alone win a title of some sort.
The saddest thing about the 14 years of futility is that youngsters in Charm City and beyond have seeing the Orioles losing as the status quo. With most of them reaching adulthood, it seems no playoff berth next year will turn young fans into ex-Oriole fans or they'll be kaput with baseball altogether—if they haven't already done so.
In 2012, the Orioles must clinch a playoff berth to execute their rebuilding plan, prove they are elite and restore hope to the Birdland faithful.