Rob Long: Finally!
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It took 14-years of losing and lots of bad front office moves, but the Baltimore Orioles have finally reached the post-season. As a fan, it’s been frustrating to watch guys like Deivi Cruz and David Newhan play important roles on this team. The results only revealed that the O’s were relying too heavily on players who were in over their heads.
Now, the cast is different and players like two-time Oriole MVP Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, JJ Hardy and Matt Wieters have assumed more suitable roles. Add Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Jim Johnson and Chris Tillman to others who have played key roles on this roster, you have the successful ingredients to a team that will finish the regular season with over 90-wins and a trip to the play-offs.
Did Jones know something when he signed that big six-year, $85.5 million contract back in May? That contract signing came along with a stretch where the Birds would lose seven out of 10 and some thought the team’s timing was impeccable. Sign Jones before reality catches up with a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 1997.
Jones would prove that his contract wasn’t just because of the 30 plus homeruns that he would go onto hit. Great leadership comes along with those dollars as well.
The Orioles exorcised some demons along the way as well. They beat the Boston Red Sox 6-3 on Sunday behind the left arm of Joe Saunders and Chris Davis’ 31st homerun of the season. Nate McLouth led off the bottom of the first with his seventh round tripper and JJ Hardy hit his 22nd of the year in the third inning. The O’s swept the Sox, putting their 2012 record against a team that once owned them at 13-5, including sweeps at home and in Boston.
Now, the O’s will go to Tampa with a shot at winning the American League East. Once again, that would be the first since in 1997. With the New York Yankees playing the Red Sox, you would think this will come down to the wire. Post-season is good, the division is even better.