|This has been a common occurrence in Baltimore in 2012. (US Presswire)|
Have you stayed with us before? Yes, but not this bunch. The Orioles franchise has three World Series titles, seven American League pennants, eight AL East championships and one wild-card appearance. But they haven't been to the playoffs since 1997.
Frequent flyers? This is uncharted territory for many Orioles' regulars. Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Jim Johnson, Robert Andino, Manny Machado, Chris Davis and most of the pitching staff have never been to the playoffs. Mark Reynolds was on the '07 Diamondbacks, Nate McLouth was on the '10 Braves, J.J. Hardy has been to the postseason twice, Joe Saunders has been three times and Jim Thome is a postseason veteran.
What's on your itinerary? It's still up in the air. The Orioles could be anywhere from the No. 1 seed in the American League to playing on the road in the wild-card game.
How long will you be staying with us? On paper, the Orioles don't appear to have a strong playoff team. They have a low batting average, low on-base percentage, a barely-positive run differential and lack a true, battle-tested playoff ace. However, the Orioles have defied the "on paper" odds for the entire 2012 season. They are also 28-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in extra innings, so they will not be intimidated by anything at all. As Adam Jones told me in Kansas City in July, manager Buck Showalter "makes you play like you got a pair." It's also worth noting they have lots of power and a lock-down closer (Johnson, who saved his 50th game Sunday).
So, yes, the smart money says the Orioles get bounced early, but the smart money on the Orioles all season would have been losing. Only a fool would count this group out of any series.