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For the fifth straight season, the Orioles are not losers

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Once, for more than a decade, the idea of the Orioles winning 81 games or more seemed impossible. Not any more.

The Orioles celebrate their 81st win of the 2016 season.
The Orioles celebrate their 81st win of the 2016 season.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Lost in the excitement of last night’s thrilling comeback win over the Rays with its dramatic final play gunning down the tying run at the plate was that the win was the 81st of the season for the Orioles. For the fifth straight year, they will not end the season as losers.

In the middle of a postseason chase where the Orioles are right now in a postseason spot, it’s something of a small and insignificant thing, but it hasn’t been so long ago that I’ve forgotten what it was like when the Orioles had 14 consecutive losing seasons. Every year they aren’t losers is its own victory.

This is even more true in a year like this one where, at the beginning of the season, no one in the national media gave the Orioles much credit for being any good at all. You’d see phrases like “the fifth team in a four team race” or “the Orioles are no better than last year” and you’d see predictions from computers and humans alike that the Orioles would come in last place.

All of their words and all of their predictions were wrong. The Orioles have succeeded this year in spite of the worst parts of the team, like the starting rotation, being even worse than those pundits may have predicted. Yet here the Orioles are, two games back in the division and three up for the second wild card spot with just 15 games to play.

Eat it, haters.

The Orioles have not had a losing season since Dan Duquette came to town. Manny Machado has never played for a losing Orioles team. Neither has Jonathan Schoop, nor even Ryan Flaherty. Darren O’Day has never pitched for a bad O’s squad, nor has Kevin Gausman. Let’s hope none of them ever have to.

Even if the Orioles somehow go on to win the World Series this year, they will probably leave us feeling angry and disappointed some time over the next month or so. If they don’t win the World Series, they’ll definitely leave us disappointed and sad over the outcome of the season.

That will suck if it happens, but it turns out that when the games all matter, every loss hurts. Only one team gets to win every year. Everyone else goes home empty-handed.

This was something I never knew from 1998-2011. Nothing really mattered back then. The Orioles were just bad. Now it all matters. The Orioles aren’t losers any more. It’s not the biggest milestone that they might achieve this season, but it’s definitely something.

They aren’t losers! The Orioles are a good team. The only thing left to find out now is just how good they are.