The art of loving a bad team is the eternal hope for a season like this one. The 2012 Orioles haven't hit especially well. Their team OBP is 11th best in the American League. Their starters haven't pitched especially well: ninth best ERA in the league. They have been astonishingly good at one thing: winning close games. That's not about ability. That's about belief. That's about manager Buck Showalter convincing a still very young team that on any given night, they can beat anybody. He's Manager of the Year - no contest.
Photo via The Beltway Sports Blog
For the first time in 15 years, the O's are back in the playoffs. The Rangers are a miserable draw. Out of the remaining AL playoff team, Texas would be my last choice to face in a one-game series. Even the Yankees would be preferable. But big picture, the Birds already have ample reason to be tremendously proud of their season. Why not one more improbable win?
There's one new face to introduce before the playoffs. L.J. Hoes made two appearances last week against the Blue Jays: as a pinch runner on September 25th and as a pinch hitter on the 26th. He failed to score in the former case and failed to get on base in the latter. He is a very highly regarded prospect and will most certainly get more opportunities. Hoes is a Washington, DC native.