Buck Showalter understands why the Orioles' fan base pines for a .500 record.
But the Orioles manager sees the milestone as more of a steppingstone.
"It's a mark you have to hit and pass if you want to be a part of this, to have some fun in September and October," Showalter said. "I don't think anyone's won the World Series under it."
The Orioles reached the .500 mark after Thursday's sweep-clinching win, dipping back below after Friday's series-opening loss in Oakland. Friday's loss ended a five-game win streak.
The .500 mark has been elusive in Baltimore since 1997. The Orioles haven't had a winning season since. Last year, the club didn't reach the .500 mark once.
This year's team was built with the expectation of ending a 13-year string of losing seasons. While it wasn't assembled with the premise of being a playoff favorite, the veterans added this winter were done so with winning in mind.
Despite a hot start, followed by a cool-down period, the Orioles' 2011 season has been a success in the win column for a number of reasons. Primarily, the team has put itself in position to be competitive and intriguing in the season's second half, despite injuries to key players like Brian Matusz, Derrek Lee and Brian Roberts.
Under Showalter, the Orioles finished 2010 on an upswing after years of limping to the finish. If the club has another strong finish in store for 2011, the 81-win plateau will be within reach.
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