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Welcome to September - And 1st Place

Written by: Peter Coolbaugh

After decades of being on the receiving end of a lot of jokes and taunts, the Baltimore Orioles are closing in on a .500 season and potentially the postseason.  Thanks in large part to their own play and to the collapse of the once-mighty New York Yankees, the Orioles are as of today, tied with NYY at the top of the AL East.  The September surgers known as the Rays are right on their heels.  No one is safe at the moment.

The Orioles have been masterful at filling in the holes.  When guys like Reimold or Hamels go down, you bring someone up or sign a new person.  When your starting rotation is not cutting it, you find someone who can get the job done.  Pundits laughed under their breath all summer at what Buck and Dan were doing.  Everyone felt a meltdown was coming.  It never came.

And while not all fans are convinced yet, it appears that these Birds are the real deal.  And while lack of playoff experience may hurt them, this Baltimore club will be around for years to come.  Adam Jones is leading the charge and a resurgent Nick Markakis is getting it done (and then some) at the top of the order.
Defensively, the team has turned it around as well.  Errors are fewer and the wins are increasing.  See the correlation?

Even fan voodoo doll Mark Reynolds, who has not exactly been loved around here, has turned his statistical season around too.  The HR barrage in the last two weeks has been amazing and his play at 1B is of the gold glove caliber.  Throw in Machado, Hardy, and a bunch of other role players and you have the makings of a superior club for many years.

As someone who follows the Orioles and all their affiliates, I recently completed my tour of Birdland by getting to my last minor league game.  Since June I have gone to (in order): Frederick, Aberdeen, Bowie, Delmarva, and Norfolk.  Actually went to 4 games at Aberdeen.  And add in 40 games at the Yard, I personify the term of die-hard fan.  This season has been a wonderful ride, and while I do not expect us to hoist a trophy in November this season, the groundwork has been firmly laid.  Take notice American League.  We are not going anywhere.

September 4, 2012

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