How will these Orioles be remembered? After three playoff appearances in five seasons, perhaps all that's left for this group of Orioles to accomplish is win a World Series before core might take on different look.
Former Orioles executive Andy MacPhail is in his second full season of rebuilding a struggling Phillies organization. And he hopes it soon leads to the same results as the Orioles' in the years after he left Baltimore.
Last year, as a club, the Orioles batting average was .256, meaning that there was a successful hit about every four at bats. It was not a bad year for "our guys." Their club average was identical to the World Series Champions, the long-suffering Chicago Cubs. However, the fact that any person on the planet can hit a baseball thrown at an average speed of 90 miles an hour — let alone in a quarter of all at bats — is truly amazing. Here's why.
The pitcher steps back from the mound, his mitt arm extended to grab the ball from the catcher, he turns, he spits, faces the batter to focus on another pitch. The batter steps back from home plate, adjusts his gloves, spits into the dirt and returns to face the pitcher. By the fifth inning, it got to me. By the eighth, I wanted to switch to a different channel or turn off the TV. The incessant spitting, whether in the field, at bat, on base or in the dugouts, is, pure and simple, disgusting.
It's gut-check time for left-hander Dave McNally: there are two outs and two men on base in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the World Series, as the Orioles nurse a 1-0 lead. McNally delivers a curveball and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Lou Johnson lofts a lazy fly to center field, where Paul Blair squeezes it for the final out. As one, the Memorial Stadium crowd of 54,458 stands and roars. On Oct. 9, at 3:47 p.m., the Orioles are world champions.
It seems like so long ago when the Orioles ran out to baseball's best start, winning their first seven games of the season. That's because since then, they've taken their fans for a whirlwind 162-game ride that ultimately led to tonight's American League wild-card game against the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
When reliving seasons from Baltimore baseball history, 1996 tends to get short shrift. Twenty years have flattened fans' memories of those Orioles to a passel of home runs and an ill-timed catch by a 12-year-old boy in the stands at Yankee Stadium.
Sunday's 5-2 win over the Yankees capped a tense week where the Orioles faced playoff elimination. But they won two of three games each in Toronto and New York after struggling all season on the road -- they were just 35-40 away from Camden Yards heading into the final two series.