Have the Orioles gone from a team that got off to a good start, to a surprise team, to a team of destiny to now, just a damn good team?
Or maybe all four still apply, especially the last one.
Buster Olney said it well in a recent appearance on ESPN radio, when he said the Orioles "can smell it now." You can insert your own joke here, but you get the point. Now they can feel it, now they can taste it, call it what you will.
What Zach Britton said after the game last night has been true of this team all year. He said, "With this team you can't tell if we won or lost."
That is so true. Many times this year I have gone into that clubhouse after a big win to the sounds of near silence. No loud music. No high fives. No smiles almost.
Yeah, these Orioles sure do stay in the moment and never get too high or too low. Now that they have tied for first and will get more attention than at any time this year, staying in the moment and with that same mindset will become more important than ever.
The Yankees series begins tomorrow, but a win tonight counts as much as any they will get Thursday through Sunday. This team has shown professionalism beyond its collective years. They suffered a tough loss Saturday, then smoked the Yankees Sunday. Rather than dwell on that, they played another day game the next day and won again. It's been most impressive.
The team that could finish third when it's all over is the Yankees. They look like a fading team now. But I don't think any fan should make this mistake: Don't write them off. They look a little down, but they are certainly not out by any stretch. Too many good players, too much payroll, too much time left.
I wonder when some fans started to believe? Maybe it was:
* When the Orioles went 9-6 over a 15-game stretch starting April 30 against New York, Boston, Texas and Tampa Bay.
* When the Orioles scored 27 runs in a June three-game blowout sweep of Pittsburgh.
* When the Orioles won back-to-back series on the road against the Rays and Yankees about a month ago.
* Anytime the Orioles rallied from five runs down to win. Happened a few times.
* When Chris Davis struck out Adrian Gonzalez.
This is pennant-race baseball, Orioles fans. You think about the team almost 24/7. They are among your first thoughts when you get up and your last when you go to bed. You look ahead at the schedule and plan accordingly. It's intense, it's a roller coaster and it's thrilling.
This is just fun and every fan that has been around and stuck around since the losing started in 1998 couldn't deserve this more.
Bowie bound: I am taking a short break from the fun of the Orioles to cover Double-A Bowie's playoff opener tonight where Dylan Bundy will pitch. Check back here later for pregame notes from Prince George's Stadium and during the night for updates on the game with Akron.