The Number 81 and a Winning Season…

The Orioles on a gorgeous afternoon in Charm City won their 81st game of the 2012 season. Obviously for us fans, their victory over the Rays not only completed a three-game sweep, but also have now vanquished an ignominious past.

For the first time in 15 seasons, the Orioles will at finish a campaign at or above .500.

No team aspires to be mediocre; however, it happens. Then again, most organizations do not have prolonged stretches of losing like the Orioles have had.

Through umpteen players – the high-dollar free agents, the good, the bad, the call-ups, the overhyped – along with managers, team executives, and like, the Orioles have never had anything for us to rally and cheer about.

Until now.

This team is a product of what Andy MacPhail started and Dan Duquette have continued to build on.

Although the players do it all on the field with their arms with their bats, you seriously cannot discount the job that Buck Showalter has done as not only a manager.

If you have read the numerous articles written online about Showalter, you can see he’s not only the on-field general manager, but a mentor and a motivator.

It’s amazing what Duquette and Showalter have done with the resources available to them. They don’t have the money of the New York Yankees or Red Sox, but they’ve been creative with their moves and acquisition of players.

For all the talk of potential moves at the trade deadline, the biggest moves the Orioles have made came from within their system (i.e., Machado) and finding available players with track records who have contributed in one way or another (Nate McLouth, Lew Ford, Taylor Teagarden, Joe Saunders.

It’s like the magic run that the Orioles have had in the past has returned this year and at this point, I expect nothing short of the playoffs for the now.

I’m sure most fans agree now. Back in March, a .500 season would have been a cause of celebration; however, I’m looking forward to October.

For example, a player like Manny Machado is a symbol of the Orioles flying high in 2012. After his amazing play at third base yesterday and spurring a game-winning rally, he did it again on Thursday. Kept hitless for most of the game on Thursday, Machado dropped a walk-off single to left field that allowed the Orioles to frolic – again – on the field after a victory.

The Orioles may have won early in the season thanks to a lot of fluky things (record in one-run games, extra-innings and the unbelievable success of the bullpen); however, now, they are playing with a lot of confidence and may actually, may well … be a very good team.

They are still tied with the Yankees for the American League East lead. They also share a wild card spot with the New Yorkers and lead the Angels by 3 ½ games.

As we all know, they have a huge series with the Oakland Athletics this weekend. They have to win as many games as possible; however, if Baltimore can sweep Oakland or take two out of three, they’ll be in awesome shape.

Ah, let the good times roll with the Orioles. The final three weeks of the season are going to be a lot of fun, riveting and something to remember.