Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and fans of this blog today and I hope everyone has a great time with family and friends. Hope everything on your plate is hot and delicious.
But the topic here is always baseball and the Orioles and O’s fans have a lot to be thankful for this year.
How about a playoff team, 101 wins and an AL East championship. The 2023 season was an amazing ride, one that started with the Tampa Bay Rays lapping the field and winning all the time. But they struggled badly in July and the Orioles gained about six games or so in the standings pretty quickly to pass them.
The club took the Rays’ best shots and stayed on top. Even when Tampa Bay came to town in mid September and took the first two games of a four-game series. That moved the Rays into a first-place tie with the Orioles. But on a Saturday night at Camden Yards, with first-place riding, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez pitched eight scoreless in an 8-0 win. The next day the O’s won a wild one in 11 innings to clinch a playoff berth and touch off a wild celebration.
They went 9-5 down the stretch after the Rays tied them atop the division and they answered the Rays’ first two wins in that series in Baltimore with four straight wins – two over Tampa Bay and two at Houston. It was their greatest chance to crack under the pressure on the year and they did not. Four straight wins against playoff clubs.
Some of our readers back during the 100 loss seasons would write that the Orioles would never contend in the East much less win it again. There was just too much of a hill to climb. But now the O’s are at the top of that hill.
In March, ESPN predicted 74 wins for the team and FanGraphs.com was at 76. Vegas over-unders were in that 76-77 range.
I’m just thankful that the organization is not only a winning one right now but it has so many solid people working in both the front office, dugout and clubhouse that I get to cover. I tell my friends and family, it’s a pleasure each day to walk into that clubhouse and that has not always been true. But I must say it has been true for several years now, even when the club was losing. Lot of quality people in there.
I’m thankful the club did in fact build an elite talent pipeline. It’s the best O’s farm I’ve ever covered. Easily. At one time having one or two top 100 players and a farm ranked in the middle of the pack in baseball seemed an accomplishment. Now they are ranked as the No. 1 farm and loaded with prospects.
Can’t wait to see what comes next for Jackson Holliday.
The Orioles have baseball’s No. 1 prospect three straight years. Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Holliday. Having one player get to the top is great, two in a row is remarkable and three straight is so rare, it has pretty much never happened.
So today, it’s easy to be thankful for the Orioles. Last season was a blast, the present day is fun to watch and track what might happen this winter and the future is so bright. Good times.
Now, time to get some turkey.