This left all Orioles fans, including myself, with a feeling of sadness, anger and hurt. How could this team of destiny fail us now when they were so close to making it to the final obstacle?
But after an hour of letting the series loss sink in, I realized how selfish I was being. There was no reason to be upset with a team that had the second-best record in the MLB. There was no reason to be upset with a team that was without stars Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis in the playoffs. There was absolutely no reason to be upset with a team that beat three straight Cy Young winners. This team had Oriole Magic and gave the fans an incredible ride.
The Baltimore Orioles were predicted by most to finish in last place in the AL East this season. The team’s biggest offseason move was bringing in starter Ubaldo Jimenez on a lucrative deal. Then David Duquette decided to bring in Nelson Cruz on a one-year, prove-it deal. These were the only big moves that media said the Orioles made in the off-season and thought it wouldn’t be enough. They were dead wrong.
Duquette also brought in some minor players, before signing Jimenez and Cruz, who would eventually play big roles. The Orioles traded for pitcher Brad Brach in November of 2013. In January, the team signed outfielder Delmon Young, who had floated around the MLB. And throughout the season, the team released and re-signed first baseman Steve Pearce.
This team was told it was going to fail and wouldn’t have a chance in the AL East. There was supposed to be no way for Buck Showalter to guide this team to even a shot at 10 games above .500. Here was a team that was going to be without star Manny Machado for the beginning of the season. This just gave the team motivation.
By the end of April, the Orioles were 14-12 and in second place in the AL East. Things were running smoothly and Baltimore had Manny Machado come back off of the disabled list. But soon, the team was hit with their first problem of the season. Matt Wieters struggled with arm soreness and was eventually placed on the 15-day DL. Wieters would never come off, as he was diagnosed with a torn UCL and needed Tommy John surgery.
It was a big blow for the Orioles, as Wieters was on an offensive hot streak and was one of the best defensive catchers in the league. How did the team solve the issue? By bringing up catcher Caleb Joseph and trading for catcher Nick Hundley.
Joseph had spent seven seasons in Baltimore’s minor league system and had finally made it to the big leagues. Hundley had lost his job in San Diego and was looking for a new home. Buck Showalter decided to make them a tandem. No one thought Wieters could be replaced, but Joseph and Hundley proved to be capable.
Both catchers played their parts, growing together and helping the starters get into a groove. They were able to come together as whole to be a “Matt Wieters.” These were two players that had no business being starters, but proved everyone wrong.
The blows kept coming in May though, as Tommy Hunter couldn’t maintain the closer’s job and Ubaldo Jimenez proved to be a bust. However, the team moved forward with Zach Britton, who had flopped the last two seasons as a starter. Britton re-invented himself in the bullpen and became one of the best closers in the regular season. Kevin Gausman would eventually take Jimenez’s role and show off electric stuff.
The Orioles kept up a rapid pace and behind the power of Nelson Cruz, held on to a 61-47 record and had a 2.5 game lead in the AL East. The team had also traded for lefty Andrew Miller, who helped give it one of the best bullpens in the game.
However, another blow would be dealt. In fact, it was a critical one, as Manny Machado went down at the plate against the Yankees in mid-August. He had twisted his knee and it would be the last time he played that season. Baltimore had lost its second All-Star of the season. How could they move on from another blow?
Manny Machado is an irreplaceable player, but the O’s brought up Jimmy Paredes and had Ryan Flaherty and Chris Davis to take shifts at third. It would prove to work for the team, as all three played exceptionally there.
Baltimore continued to plow through August and would then trade for outfielder Alejandro De Aza and third baseman Kelly Johnson at the end of the month. De Aza became a crucial part of the team.
As we’ve seen though; when things are going well, another blow needs to be dealt. Chris Davis was suspended for 25-games and missed the entire postseason. That made it three All-Stars down for the season.
However, all the hard work Showalter and the team had finally paid off on Sept. 16, as the team clinched the AL East.
We all know what happened after that night, as the playoffs are fresh in our minds, but let’s take the time to truly admire winning the AL East. This was the team that no one thought twice about. It was a team that lost three All-Stars, had its highest-paid starter flop and had to change starters. This team won the AL East by 12 games.
It’s upsetting that the Orioles couldn’t make the World Series, but we all need to be proud of everything this team has done. It did the impossible and it shocked the world. We, as fans, got to enjoy the ride with them and it was incredible.
So don’t be sad, because this is just the beginning. The O’s will be left with some offseason decisions and some players won’t be back, but we all know how baseball works. However, the core of the team will be here next season and will be better than ever. The three All-Stars that were sorely missed will be back.
All good things don’t have to come to an end. Sometimes they just come back stronger than ever. Get ready to enjoy it because after years of losing; we can finally enjoy it.