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Best in baseball? On one day in May, the Orioles made history

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
BALTIMORE -- As they watched the Phillies-Nationals game Sunday night, something caught the Orioles' attention.

And no, it wasn't Cole Hamels. Or Bryce Harper.

"They were talking about us having the best record in baseball," Chris Davis said Monday.

The Orioles do have the best record in baseball. Or they did, until they lost 14-3 to the Rangers Monday night. Now they're tied for the best record in the game, at 19-10.

A big deal?

Well, the last time the Orioles woke up on May 7 with baseball's best record, it was May 7, 1969.

So it is a big deal, then?

"That proves it's not," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. "Because the Orioles have won since then."

This also suggests it's not: Only two of the last 20 World Series champions (the 1998 Yankees and the 2005 White Sox) had baseball's best record on May 7. Three of the last six years, a team with baseball's best record on May 7 didn't end up making the playoffs.

On the other hand, that 1969 Orioles team ended up in the World Series. And the 1997 Orioles team that had the best record in the American League on May 7 (one game behind the NL-best Braves) was also the last Orioles team to finish the season with a winning record.

"I'm not going to lie, it's better to be on top," Wieters said. "But we want to be on top in September."

Monday's loss to the Rangers didn't prove any more about the Orioles than last week's wins over the Yankees and Red Sox did. It's still too early to judge this team, much beyond saying that the pitching staff seems to be much improved.

The Orioles themselves, perhaps because they've had it drilled into them by manager Buck Showalter, are sticking to the idea that it's early and they haven't proven anything yet.

"I think our guys have a grip on reality," Showalter said. "I'm real proud of the way they've handled the attention. At the same time, I'm glad they're getting some attention, because they deserve it."

They've already done something no Orioles team had done since 1969.

That's got to be worth something.
 
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