The Baltimore Orioles had a few good teams in the 1990’s, lead by Cal Ripken Junior, Roberto Alomar, Brady Anderson and Mike Mussina. Unfortunately, their success took place during the latest Yankee dynasty and therefore the O’s were never able to reach their desired pinnacle of a World Series Title. After the retirement of Ripken, the Orioles dropped off the face of the relevant baseball planet. For over a decade the Orioles looked up at the standings every season and saw the Yankees and Red Sox sitting pretty atop the leader board.
The good news for the Orioles is that they were at least competitive with the Rays and Blue Jays for the battle for 3rd in the AL East. Then in the late, 2000’s, the Rays all of a sudden got talented and began competing with the Red Sox and the Yanks. All of the Rays years of sucking paid off, and their quality draft picks came to the big leagues and took off. Tampa reached the World Series in 2008, a feat Baltimore was unable to accomplish in their 90’s run. As a result of Tampa’s success, there were two basement beaters in the AL East…Baltimore and Toronto.
Then the craziest thing happened this year…The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore switched places. Boston fell apart, the Orioles pushed the Yankees for the division crown and eventually settled for a Wild Card birth and first round matchup vs. New York. Well, the Yankees disposed the Orioles in five games but baseball experts all over the world were saying how successful of a season Baltimore had and that it could be a building block for next year.
Fast forward 6 weeks and the Toronto Blue Jays are the talk of the big leagues. After their blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, the Blue Jays have put themselves in a position to compete with the rest of the division. Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Beurhle and Josh Johnson are all bonafide big leaguers who will help contribute immediately to a Toronto Blue Jays that already has big league talent on the roster in players like Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie. Then two days ago, the Blue Jays inked Melky Cabrera to a deal and even though he’s coming off a steroid scandal, he’ll still add to their suddenly deep team.
As for Baltimore’s future, I believe the Toronto moves drop them back down to fourth in the division. The Yankees will always be the Yankees because they have the money to retool year after year. The Rays still have the youngest and deepest rotation in the American League and if some of their players like Evan Longoria were healthy all last year, I believe they could have taken the AL East crown from both the Yankees and the Rays. The Blue Jays will be better than the Orioles next year because their talent will have time to go to Spring Training together and mesh, unlike the Dodgers talent collection attempt this past year. The other thing Baltimore needs to consider is that the Boston Red Sox are down right now, but we all know that they will be back in short time. The demand for a winner in Bean Town is too strong and the front office has already stated that they are willing to spend money to build sooner rather than later.
So, Baltimore Oriole fans, if you are out there…sucks to be you! You had a good year, it was cute but you didn’t really accomplish all that much actually. The Yankees beat you in the division race and the playoffs and Yankee fans are disappointed with the end result of 2012! It’s time for you to go back to the dungeon for the next decade or so and let the AL East heavyweights battle it out. Hey, at least the Ravens are relevant….