Hey guys! CK here once again.
With the Nationals on pace for their worst season in 13 years, there isn’t much to watch unless you’re a fan of watching young guys struggle and aging veterans flail around hopelessly. So…what else is going on in the baseball world?
The Yankees are on a skid, as Monty pointed out in an article earlier this week. The Dodgers have won 10 in a row, the Mariners might finally be back, the Padres are still trying to find their groove with Juan Soto, and so on. But no team has been more fun to talk about lately than the Baltimore Orioles.
The O’s, who have already surpassed their 2021 win total (and also their 2018 and 2019 totals too), are 58-52, tied for the third wild card spot in the American League, and have won seven of their last ten games. They came close to sweeping their rival Blue Jays this week, but a postponement yesterday prevented that.
Baltimore is the feel good story of the year for baseball fans, with a scrappy young team headed by the arrival of catcher Adley Rutchsman, an inexperienced, “figuring it out” pitching staff anchored by Jordan Lyles, Austin Voth (sorry Nats fans), and Dean Kremer.
Monty also wrote earlier this week about how adjustments made to Camden Yards have contributed to the Orioles giving up less home runs, but we’re not here to talk about why the Orioles are succeeding so much. Rather, I’m here to tell you why this team is so fun, and why every baseball fan should be cheering them on (unless you’re an AL East fan).
Media figures had made them the poster child for the “tanking problem” in baseball.
The Orioles were the main team cited by numerous media outlets, including The Athletic, ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and even Forbes, as the problem with tanking in baseball. The draft lottery was in place because of Baltimore. Teams needed a salary floor because of the Orioles’ ridiculously small payroll. Whenever there was a competition problem in the sport, the easy thing to do was just pin it on a small market like Baltimore. And that extended to individual sportswriters as well. Remember ESPN reporter Buster Olney’s weird vendetta against the O’s? When he constantly called them bad for baseball, railed on them like no team had ever lost 100+ games in a season before, and said their tanking would ruin the game? Also his weird beef with Adley Rutchsman wearing the same jersey number as Mike Mussina? Olney was leading the charge of writers who were attempting to convince baseball fans that spending big was the best way to go, and that rebuilding is destructive and can easily resemble blatant tanking.
Doesn’t all this narrative pushing make the Orioles winning so much sweeter? It’s the type of thing I enjoy seeing purely because it goes back against all the problematic agendas that media figures attempt to push on baseball fans. Every game Baltimore wins is a pushback against those media narratives, and it’s pretty enjoyable to watch them stick it to New York and Los Angeles shills.
But this isn’t the only thing that makes the Orioles so fun.
Adley. Frickin. Rutschman.
The Orioles started the 2022 season 16-24. Adley Rutschman was called up on May 21st, the number 1 prospect in baseball and the future of the Orioles franchise. The team’s record since he was called up?
42 wins and 29 losses.
Yep. Adley’s O’s have been 42-29. That is incredibly impressive, and the effect that a good young backstop can have on a baseball team. But it’s more than just that for Rutschman. He’s been slashing .253/.366/.433 with a .799 OPS, and according to FanGraphs, is playing really good defense too, highlighted by a 4.1 FRM.
Adley’s been the catalyst for this O’s team, and with the fact he’s only 24, will be the guy leading the charge from behind the plate for years to come. Hell, he might be the next Buster Posey. As for now, he’s just the guy helping Baltimore win ball games. And it’s been pretty fun to watch.
The rest of the team is enjoyable as well.
There’s more to the O’s than just some people on their pitching staff and Adley.
Cedric Mullins leads the team with a .263 batting average, and is just as fun to watch as ever. Anthony Santander has blasted 20 home runs this season. Jorge Mateo has stolen 27 bases, and is an energy on the field. Ryan Mountcastle has already hit 50 career home runs, breaking the record for the least amount of games it took for an Orioles player to reach such a milestone. Austin Hays and Rougned Odor are hanging around too.
All this is to say, the Orioles have a collection of personalities that you just can’t help but root for. A team full of likable guys fighting the underdog story is always a fun time for those who jump aboard the ship.
Who doesn’t love a good underdog story?
Above all else, the Orioles are fun simply because of the thing that got them so much negative attention for so long.
They don’t suck anymore, and in a year where they weren’t supposed to blow away anybody. Heck, their preseason Vegas win total was only 62.5 games. They’re already only 5 games away from exceeding it, and there’s a little under 2 months left in the season. Baltimore is a fun underdog story slowly improving throughout the year, and even if they ultimately fail to make the playoffs, such a season will set them up for a strong free agency and great success going forward.
So, why root for the Orioles this season? Because why not. It’s fun!
And if things don’t work out in Baltimore, the Mariners are having a good season too. Double enjoyment!
But as for now, we’ll just see how the Birds in Maryland do. Even if I hate Maryland, I can’t deny the fun in rooting for the O’s.