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Just six months to Opening Day

After the red-hot Kansas City Royals completed a four-game sweep of the Orioles in the American League Championship Series, I'm still flaunting my team colors. For the first time in my life I can say I'm proud to be an Orioles fan ("There's no joy in Baltimore," Oct. 16).

This season, national columnists and local beat writers alike continually highlighted what the Orioles overcame to get here, from injuries to suspensions to low expectations. But it's not about what the Orioles didn't do these last six and a half months, it's about what they did.

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Nelson Cruz silenced critics with his best season yet. Adam Jones had another stellar year, becoming one of the game's best all around players. Kevin Gausman progressed enormously, dominating in both starts and out of the bullpen.

Delmon Young excelled in his few at-bats, becoming the team's clutch specialist. Zach Britton stepped up to the closer role and sealed the deal for over a third of the team's wins. And Buck Showalter proved what a mastermind manager he is, manipulating his odd roster into a winning juggernaut.

They won 96 games in the regular season, clinching a division championship at home. They won three straight games in the ALDS against the last three AL Cy Young award winners. And they put Baltimore back in the national baseball spotlight.

I'm disappointed and angry today for different reasons than many people. It's not that the O's lost four straight games to end their season and were clearly outplayed by the better team. Nor is it that this season's team MVP Nelson Cruz, or outfield veteran Nick Markakis, or lights-out bullpen specialist Andrew Miller might not return next season.

It's that we have to wait almost six months for baseball to start again. But then the fun will begin again, better than ever.

Ben Zimmermann, Bethesda

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