The Orioles have been playing like a playoff team lately, winning back-to-back series for the first time since May 21-26, which included taking two of three from Washington and sweeping Kansas City in a three-game set. Not only is that a major feat in itself for this team, but these consecutive series wins came against two teams vying for a postseason berth: the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels.
This past week has been pretty impressive in Baltimore and it seems like it's going to continue with the split of the double header yesterday against the Red Sox. All of this is not including the series win against the Yankees from Sept. 6-8, when they took two of three, both of those games going into extra innings. The starting pitching has been solid, the bullpen has been completely lights out (minus Kevin Gregg of course; in four of the last five wins, Gregg did not touch the mound) and the offense has shown up when it had to.
But of course, I find a problem with all this. While it's great that the Orioles are ending the season on a bang and thwarting playoff hopes for a team we all hate (and others along the way), it really, really frustrates me.
The season started off the way it's ending. The Orioles surprised everyone with a 6-1 start; however, they quickly lost a bunch of games and got back to the same old Orioles we all know (note how I don't use the complete phrase "we all know and love" here). Now, they're finishing the end of the season the same way: looking great in all aspects of the game. The question is, why? Is it just for some sort of dignity? I highly doubt that, as I find it impossible to have any sort of dignity after yet another losing season. I guess the only possible explanation I can come up with for their late resurgence in the last two or three weeks of the season is that they have nothing to play for, don't really care and aren't feeling pressure. Add all that up and you get a group of guys going out there every day who love to play baseball and are relaxed and just having fun out there, not worried about winning.
The frustration for me comes with this question: Why can't the Orioles play this way for the entire season? I guess the answer is pretty obvious: They just aren't good. They don't have the talent, coaches and front office staff to play 162 games the way they can play 20 games. It's unfortunate, but that's how baseball works and that's why the beginning of the season doesn't tell you anything about a team. With the season winding down and only nine games left until a five-month offseason, spring training and opening day in April, it's these sorts of things I realize as a fan who has nothing to look forward to, no hope for at least another year and no way of knowing how long it will be until we all see that winning season.
However, I do like ending my articles on a positive note and though they are extremely hard to come by, I have one. With the Orioles' win in the first game of the double header against Boston yesterday, it is now impossible to have a 100-game losing season. If the O's were to lose every single game the rest of the season, they would finish with a 62-99 record. So smile about that today.
Lauren Tilley blogs about the Orioles for Birds Watcher, and her thoughts on the O's appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.