4 Reasons the 2012 Baltimore Orioles Will Make the Playoffs

Ryan JonesContributor IIApril 4, 2012

4 Reasons the 2012 Baltimore Orioles Will Make the Playoffs

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    Despite another losing season in the city of Baltimore in 2011, the Orioles finished on a high note. From September 6 to the end of the regular season, the O's split two four-game series with the Yankees and the Tigers, they took two out of three from both the Rays and the Angels, and in their final seven games against the Red Sox, the O's took five, including the season-ending stunner.

    Each of the following squads, at the time, clinched or were contending for a playoff berth. Now, with a new general manager, some new young arms from the Far East, and a solid defense remaining intact, the O's finally look like they are in contention.

    Here's why the Orioles will clinch a playoff spot (and quite possibly the AL East).

First Base: High Five

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    The Orioles chances of making the postseason increased with the addition of another wild card team.

    The Birds can now set their sights on a second-place finish, maybe even third, and qualify for their first postseason berth since 1997.

Second Base: The Clothes Do Make the Man

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    As the old saying goes, "Change is good."

    In November 2011, the Orioles ditched the ornithological bird, for a revamped look on the classic cartoon bird, symbolizing the grand "Oriole Way" of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

    When a team goes through a tough drought, drastic changes are needed. The Devil Rays went from 96 losses in dark green uniforms in 2007 to 97 victories the very next year in Columbia blue attire and getting the Devil off their shirts.

    In another ironic twist, the O's lost 107 games in 1988 (the first 21 in a row) with a cartoon bird. The following year the ornithological bird arrived and so did the O's — with 87 wins.

Third Base: Dream Weaver

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    Weaverball (n.): a philosophy established by Orioles manager Earl Weaver that ball games could be won with good pitching, good defense and the three-run homer.

    It's been 30 years since "The Earl of Baltimore" first left the Birds, but his tenets still resonate. The O's budding rotation of Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Wei-Yin Chen does give fans hope of for the future.

    The Orioles have accumulated some Gold Gloves recently as Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters all won the coveted awards. The lineup is also stocked with a good amount of power with Jones, J.J Hardy and Mark Reynolds. The latter two blasted 30 and 37 homers last season.

    With GM Dan Duquette at the helm, Weaverball and the Oriole Way of yesteryear are getting back on track.

Home Plate: No Pressure

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    Everyone knows that Baltimore has suffered from 14 consecutive losing seasons and many predict the O's this year will finish in misery or at best, mediocrity. But overlooking the Orioles could be a blessing in disguise.

    The teams above Baltimore all have targets on their chest.

    Yankees: Despite a great starting rotation and the great hitting of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, it looks like Father Time and injuries will catch up to the Bronx Bombers.

    Red Sox: A huge September collapse, the chicken and beer controversy, the departure of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein and the hiring of Bobby Valentine, have drawn all eyes to Beantown.

    Rays: Four straight winning seasons, three playoff berths, two AL East titles, one AL pennant, have led baseball aficionados to predict that this is the year the Rays finally win it all.

    Blue Jays: For three out of the past four years, the Jays have been at or above .500.  Huge seasons from Jose Bautista and Adam Lind and solid pitching from Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, have caused many to make some pretty lofty predictions.

Bottom Line

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    The Orioles time to end their playoff drought is here.

    With a better shot at playoff contention, a "new" look, a return to the roots of the Oriole Way, and going under the radar, the Birds turnaround will shock the baseball world.