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Around The American League: Baltimore Orioles: B-Town Can Relate To C-Town For Lack Of Success

Orioles have longer playoff drought that Indians

ST PETERSBURG FL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Outfielder Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles flies out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 29 2010 in St. Petersburg Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Outfielder Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles flies out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 29 2010 in St. Petersburg Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Be appreciative of the fact that the Indians did in fact make the playoffs in 2007, and won 93 games in 2005, because the Baltimore Orioles won over 80 games only once this decade, and have not made a playoff appearance since the 1997 season, the year the Tribe beat them in the American League Championship game.

So quit complaining. Ok never mind, this city still, and will always have my sympathies, because Cleveland fans have been far more supportive than Baltimore fans.

But getting back on topic this Orioles team was prepared to turn things around starting in the fall. They received commitment from former ESPN analyst and ex manager Buck Showalter, a rebuilding expertise. With the intriguing pieces they picked up this winter, things are looking more appealing for a big turnaround.

Though they added some age, some much needed pop comes with it. Third basemen Mark Reynolds, a one time 40 home run slugger, takes over at third base; an area of the field that the O's haven't gotten efficiency out of since the days of Cal Ripken Jr. His batting average does negate a lot of his run production, but his serious raw power translates to unlimited potential. The other half of their corner infield gained a bit of experience with Derrek Lee, 35. His glove is still above average, and can produce on occasion. Newly groomed shortstop J.J. Hardy has flashed signs of greatness, but is underachieving at this point, but Baltimore won't ask him to carry more weight than he needs to. But Vladimir Guerrero will pick up a lot of that slack at the designated hitter spot. A career .320 hitter, Vlad can be the stabilizing force for them. A healthy season from second basemen Brian Roberts, and the maturation of catcher Matt Wieters could give them a surprisingly strong batting order.

Don't get too excited though. Because ultimately, the best pitching teams in the league come away with success, and they haven't had much of that at all this decade. They haven't been able to persuade many free agents to come pitch in Baltimore. Why? Who knows. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, their home stadium, doesn't exactly favor hitters, and the alleys aren't exactly a wide open range. But a lack of aces makes for longer games, hence, longer seasons. Meaning longer seasons for fans too. And that can be a drag.

But at least their fans will have reason to be excited this season. Lately, they haven't had much hype at all.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.