So this is what it feels like to be a fan of a winning team? It has been a long time for Baltimore Orioles fans, but now that the time has come, the stakes are higher. It has been 14 seasons, but most Orioles fans can still remember having the expectation of being in the playoffs and competing for the AL East division title every year.
Time will tell if Orioles fans can count on this type of performance year in and year out, but let’s just concentrate on the exciting September baseball going on right now. If Orioles fans were told in April their team would be competing for a playoff spot in September they would be ecstatic! In fact, I don’t think there is a word in the English dictionary that could describe how happy Orioles fans would be.
Just weeks ago, the Orioles were going back and forth with the Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, and Los Angeles Angels for the two wild card spots. Fans were thrilled. However, manager Buck Showalter always said the goal was to win the AL East.
Well now I think it’s safe to say the expectations have risen in Baltimore. I used to think the implementation of the second wild card would help the Orioles in a couple years. I thought the Orioles would be able to hang around longer into the season for that second wild card spot. Well, forget the wild card!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure fans would be thrilled to see the Orioles qualify for the playoffs this season via one of the two wild card spots, but the Orioles can do better. Heck, they deserve better! After all the tight games and extra inning marathons the Orioles have won this season, they have earned the right to compete for the AL East title.
I never in a million years thought I would say this in September 2012, but as a die-hard Orioles fan, I would be a little disappointed if the Orioles make the playoffs via the wild card. Again, don’t get me wrong, I will also be thrilled my favorite team will finally be in the playoffs. This season though, has a special feel. I truly believe the Orioles can and will win the AL East.
The bar has been raised in Baltimore baseball fans. Yes, it happened quickly. Yes, it was unexpected. It is happening though, so get used to it. The Orioles have raised their expectations. No longer are the Orioles and their fans satisfied with a .500 season. No longer are Orioles fans satisfied with just a winning record. No longer is a wild card spot the goal. A division title is within the Orioles reach and they expect nothing less.
The AL East title is within reach and Baltimore knows it.