Here on Thanksgiving Day it is a time to look back and ponder those blessings that have come our way – a process that, not surprisingly, I much applaud in that I have been a pastor of a church for over 30 years. I’m thankful particularly this year for still being here for this holiday, 2013. A very weird pulmonary emboli crisis could have killed me back in September, so, life is good! Such an event puts much of the rest of life into perspective really quickly!
So, among the more mundane things of life, quite honestly, are sports. Yet, I am thankful for them and their place in my life – teaching lessons early on, and becoming an avenue of connection to community and rising younger generations in this second half of life. Even though I coached runners and will include in this Baltimore / Maryland blog some posts about such, baseball is really my major sports passion, particularly the Orioles.
This blog is only now 15-days-old, so any of my prognostications and predictions of the past season long pre-date that. So you’ll have to take my word on what I got right and wrong from my previous writing. I’ll be really bold in March and make a lot of forecasts to reconsider next fall.
But looking back on the most recent season, there is again a mixed basket collection of good guesses and totally wrong predictions. To be truthful, after being proven correct in 2012 with quite a number of positive anticipations that came true, 2013 was a less successful year, not only for the Orioles, but for my prognosticating as well.
So, let me look back at the 2013 Birds in three parts, or three posts over three days … general predictions, correct predictions, errant predictions.
General Predictions about the 2013 Season
Here is a summary of what I wrote just before the beginning of the 2013 season: There should be several teams in the running for the AL East, including the Birds. I believe the Orioles will have another successful season roughly like last year, being a playoff contender. Beyond that, I believe this year will sort out who will be the stars of the next several years, and that the next 2-3 years after this season will feature an Orioles team in the first handful of dominant clubs in the major leagues. I think the Nationals will be the dominant team this season.
1. The AL East – The division was closely competitive throughout the year, and the Orioles were a part of it to some extent. Though I never wrote it, I was thinking that the finish would be Rays, Orioles, Red Sox or Jays, Yankees. The return of the Red Sox to win the division and even the World Series was not on my radar at all. I really thought the Yanks would fall apart with their aging team, and honestly, they did not – at least not to the extent I predicted. What I did get correct was the Jays demise. The big trades last year that had the Jays looking like the power in the division (according to most writers) was not a viewpoint I bought at all. I was unimpressed, and their play proved me correct.
2. The Orioles season record and position for playoff contention – The Orioles went from a 2012 record of 93-69 to a 2013 record of 85-77. Honestly, the Orioles would have been more into the picture in the way I predicted if only the bullpen, and J.J. in particular, did not blow so many games. I believe everyone hoped also that the starting rotation would have been at least a little bit better than they were. I anticipated a great defensive season, though would not have expected it to be among the greatest in the history of the game.
3. Sorting out the next several years – It has always been my view in recent years that the Orioles were a team on the rise, and that 2014 would be the target year to put it together in a big way. So 2012 was a lot better than expected, 2013 was a bit worse and disappointing, but 2014-16 should be the years to seriously contend among the best teams of the league. The season did some sorting out for sure as to who is going to be on the bus in the next several years – Chris Davis, Chris Tillman and Manny Machado being prime examples. Perhaps it clarified as well who will NOT have a seat – folks like Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Yet through it all, there are still a great many unanswered questions about Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter, Nolan Reimold, and even Nick Markakis.
4. The Nationals being the dominant team in MLB – Wow, that sounds a lot sillier now than it did eight or nine months ago. Though the Nats put some good stuff together toward the end of the year, 2013 was an even bigger disappointment in Washington than in Baltimore. But, there’s a lot of disappointment in Washington right now!
But overall, there is reason to be optimistic as an Orioles fan when being honest, stepping back, and looking at the big picture. These two years – two consecutive winning seasons – have set a new atmosphere of expectation in Charm City. The culture is now one of winning, even as the challenges of financial resources to compete in the AL East are daunting.
It is a good time to be an Orioles fan, and to be thankful.