The Orioles Do Not Suck

The Orioles won their 82nd game of the year yesterday, securing their first winning record since 1997 – when they won 98 games and the AL East. They won 79 games in 1998, then 78 games in 1999, which they would match again in 2004. Between 2007 and 2011, they did not win 70 games in any season. They were terrible for an extended period of time. Every year after the season was over, the Orioles played a round robin tournament against local high school teams. They came in last every time.* Their only comparables in terms of long periods of awfulness are the Pirates and the Royals. The Pirates haven’t had a winning record since 1992, while the Royals have had one winning record in the last 19 seasons – when they won 83 games in 2003.

But back to the Orioles. They’re only a game back of the Yankees for first in the AL East. You’ve heard of the Yankees right? They have the highest payroll in baseball. The Orioles are ranked 19th – about $115 million back. Which seems like a huge problem – except that Tampa Bay has made the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years with a lower payroll than the Orioles. The Orioles have had some pretty large payrolls in the past, but they haven’t spent their money in the smartest ways; ways that transfer over to the win column. The same could probably be said for this year. The Orioles current starting lineup includes both Nate McLouth and Lew Ford. Lew Ford is currently sporting an OPS under .600, but keeps getting at-bats because the Orioles don’t really have any better options. Randy Wolf started for Baltimore today. In a pennant race. That should tell you something about the current state of the Orioles. But somehow it’s working.

It’s the end of an era. The Orioles have sucked for a really long time. In a way they kind of still suck this year, but they’ve still won a lot of games. They could win the AL East. Which would be really strange. I eagerly anticipate seeing how the Orioles perform in 2012. Obviously they’ll have at least a partially different roster, but will they be able to over-perform their run differential again? Or will they fade back into the depths of the AL East? I hope that they revert to their terrible ways. There’s already too much uncertainty in the world to have to worry about the Orioles actually being good. Damn you Orioles.

* I made this up.

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