The impossible is now possible. That is the ultimate lesson of the 2012 Orioles. It was impossible for them to win, and they won. Now, as the curtain lifts on the 2013 season, we find ourselves experiencing something unfamiliar. We need not look ahead with dread, wondering how bad it will get this year. No. Those days are gone. A 41-20 streak to close out the season saw to that.
It is the great unknown that stands before us now, for while the possibility is always there that last year's naysayers could be right, that it was all a fluke, another thing is possible now, too. The Orioles could win the World Series. That was fun to say. I'm going to say it again. The Orioles could win the World Series. Ooh. It's chilly in here.
I went to a playoff game at Camden Yards last year. The Orioles lost the game, but that's not important. I was there. It happened, when, if you'd asked me a year ago to bet my life against the Orioles being in the playoffs, I would have taken the bet and shuffled off this mortal coil.
Sixteen men played in that game for the O's and thirteen of them are on the Opening Day roster. Steve Pearce replaces Lew Ford at DH. Brian Roberts replaces Robert Andino at second base. Nick Markakis replaces Mark Reynolds at the plate and Chris Davis in the field. Nolan Reimold is in left field instead of Nate McLouth. The team that takes the field today, for the first game of 2013, could turn out to be better than the team that took the Yankees to five games last year. And in case you were wondering, of the thirteen Yankees who played that night, only six were on their Opening Day roster for this season.
The haters are still out there, circling in the water as ominous fins occasionally crest the surface. They think inevitable regression floats around this team like so much chum and they are prepared to feast. They could be right, because sometimes in life, luck evens out and that is that. Luck does not always even out, however. More than just that, there are plenty of things that did not break the Orioles' way last year, like 40% of the starts being made by starting pitchers who were terrible. There was right field after Markakis was hurt. Third base pre-Machado was another mess, as was left field pre-McLouth. Second base was mostly awful all year.
This is a team that overcame a lot to get where they got last year, and they are back. They have tasted a little success and they want to taste more. Any team with Adam Jones at the helm will stay hungry. It's one of his favorite phrases. He now has another. You may have seen it if you saw his shirt on an in-game MASN interview and you may have seen it on other players, because he's given out shirts to the team. The black shirts with orange lettering say this:
TO BE CONTINUED...
For these Orioles, and for those of us who kept our hearts with this team through all the losing, last year was only the beginning. The story is not over. A new chapter begins against David Price and the Rays today. The Orioles could win the World Series.
Something magic happens...
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Desmond Jennings - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Sam Fuld - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Ben Zobrist - 2B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Matt Joyce - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Yunel Escobar - SS|
|Nolan Reimold - LF||James Loney - 1B|
|Steve Pearce - DH||Jose Molina - C|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Kelly Johnson - DH|