This has probably been true for a while now but the 2022 Orioles will be a special team in Birdland for many years to come. They may be remembered as fondly as the 1989 Why Not Orioles and the 2012 team that ended a 14-year run of losing.
With Sunday's win at New York by 3-1, the Orioles didn't just achieve a winning season. But they did so coming off their last three full seasons with a combined 333 losses. They lost 115 in 2018, 108 in 2019 and 110 in 2021.
They went from 52 wins to 82 wins.
According to many, maybe to most preseason predictions, they were supposed to lose 100 again. When they started the year going 7-14 in April, it looked like those predictions might be accurate.
They started the year 1-5 but with four losses by two runs or less against two 2021 playoff teams in Tampa Bay and Milwaukee. And they showed off some bullpen arms early on that had combinations of power and stuff.
The Orioles were showing glimpses of a team that could improve. And then they did. A road series win in mid May at St. Louis was impressive. Then they lost six in a row.
Yet these Orioles did something at that point they would do time and time and time again this year. They bounced back and surprised us with their play. They went 4-1 the next five games. Those five were against the Yankees and Rays.
Their tough and very competitive play early on within the AL East division was a sign they might be better this year and they played the division tough all year.
They didn't hit much over the weekend in the Bronx, but they took two of three at Yankee Stadium. Against the AL East champs. Against a team that entered this series red-hot, winning nine of 10 and 17 of 22 games. The Yankees began this series 46-27 at home, 17-7 in September and 46-27 versus AL East opponents.
Then the Orioles took the series. With the baseball world watching their every move.
This team has not had a lot of big moments down the stretch, losing more than they won. But just when people are ready to kick them when they are down they rally in the ninth at Toronto, they scored 23 runs in two games at Boston, they take two of three from the Yankees.
This team has guts and heart and that's been true all year. A winning season after a 52-win season is a remarkable achievement.
Now a word about the criticism the pitchers got for daring not to throw pitches down the middle to Aaron Judge over the weekend. Tough weekend for the whiners among the New York fans and media.
The O's staff pitched him well and won games. They did their jobs exceedingly well. Judge has hit nine homers this year off the Orioles. They have thrown him plenty of meatballs over the years. Not on purpose of course, but they did.
This team pitched him tough and he went 1-for-7 with five walks, a hit by pitch and six strikeouts. He batted four times Sunday and was thrown 13 strikes that he either took for a strike, swung at and missed or fouled off. He fanned three times. Plenty of chances. That he didn't hit No. 62 is on him, not the pitchers.
They pitched him tough and should be admired, not criticized. Some in the Yankee media said they should challenge him. No they should get him out. They did it well.
Now there are just three games left in the 2022 season. We find out today which player will be the Most Valuable Oriole. We honor the Minor League award winners Tuesday. We say goodbye to baseball for this year on Wednesday.
What a season, what a ride, what a team.