Orioles get big-time respect from Sports Illustrated

If anyone still needs confirmation that baseball in Baltimore is back and that this wild and wonderful season is for real, know this: the Orioles are on a regional cover of the Oct. 1 edition of Sports Illustrated.

Pictured under a headline that reads “Washington/Baltimore: The Unlikely Sports Capital” are outfielders Endy Chavez, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis doing a joyous post-game victory leap-and-bump.

Yes, it’s not a new photo. Markakis’ broken thumb is in a cast now and his playing -- and leaping -- days are over for the moment.

But it’s an arresting image nonetheless, accompanied by the caption: “It’s been one celebration after another for the Orioles, no longer the AL East cellar dwellers.”

Along with stories about Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, the cover touts a story by David Simon titled “Orioles: Down to the Wire.”

Even a two-game losing streak by the Orioles shouldn’t stop their fans from savoring this one.

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