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Observation deck: Brooks Robinson still the best third baseman of all time

How soon we forget: There is no law that says everyone who plays for the Orioles has to agree that Brooks Robinson was the best third baseman of all time, but it was still strange to hear Manny Machado say Thursday that Adrian Beltre is the man at the hot corner.

"You see his track record," Machado said. "He's going to go down as the best third baseman to ever play the game."

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Machado can't be expected to remember Robinson's wizardry, since he was born nearly two decades after Brooks retired, and he's not the first person to make that controversial call. Cal Ripken Jr. said something very similar on a national television broadcast in 2013.

Comparing players from different eras is a precarious business, as Ripken would later explain, but I still think Brooks was the best defensive third baseman and Mike Schmidt was the best offensive third baseman. Perhaps Beltre fits somewhere in between.

Timing is everything: Even with the Orioles suddenly in a 1-5 nosedive, they are showing again that they are masters of good timing. The managed to stay atop the American League East standings until Friday because the other contenders seemed intent on maintaining the status quo.  They've slipped back a couple games with their toothless performance in Chicago, but still are in good shape at the mathematical halfway point in the season.

During their playoff runs in 2012 and 2014, the O's also had a knack for being in the right – or wrong – situation at the right time, whether it was catching a team at the right time or steering around some of the best pitchers in the league.

Maybe Gausman's future is now: Manager Buck Showalter had been coy about his plans for Kevin Gausman, who turned in another strong outing on Thursday night against the Rangers, but it's pretty clear he's not going to be saved for 2016.

Showalter seemed to be pointing the club's top pitching prospect toward next season after bouncing him back to the minor leagues, but the struggles of veteran Bud Norris made that a tough sell with the Orioles locked in a four-team battle for control of the AL East.

Showalter said Saturday that Gausman will start Tuesday and it appears he will step into the rotation full time. He deserves this chance. Norris was sent to the bullpen.

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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