The Baltimore Orioles lead the AL East going into the All-Star break. This year, the Orioles’ players can have a completely different mentality when playing in the All-Star game.
In 2013, the Orioles went into the All-Star break four and a half games out of the first place. They were in third place at 10 games above .500.
Though the division was not out of hand, the Boston Red Sox were hot and seemingly impossible to overcome. The Orioles were within shot, but it was not the same type of feeling as if they led the division.
The Red Sox players were playing for home-field advantage, while the Orioles did not know how the season would end yet. Or how the All-Star game would affect them in the end of the season.
Though the Orioles would still play to help the AL try to win the home-field advantage, through interviews, the players do not look upon the game the same way as if they were in first place.
However, unlike previous years, the Orioles were still in contention and that All-Star game meant more than when they are already out of contention.
This year, the Orioles hold first place and have a good chance to win the division. When Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz take the field on Tuesday, they are playing to give themselves the possible home-field advantage in the World Series.
In 2012 at the break, the Orioles were only five games above .500, sitting seven games behind the first place New York Yankees.
The Orioles made the playoffs that season after narrowly winning the division in the final games of the season.
By leading the division by four games, the AL East is the Orioles’ title to lose. This has to change their perspective when playing in the All-Star game.
It is no longer a meaningless game where the Orioles are 10, 13 games behind in the division with no hope of a playoff run. The All-Star game is now another meaningful game for the Orioles’ players to try to help win.
Two seasons ago when the Atlanta Braves were leading their division at the All-Star break, the players said the All-Star game meant much more than it did in previous seasons when they were not in contention.
I believe it must feel the same way for the Orioles, which is why it is important that the representatives of Baltimore do not only play for the American League, but play for the Orioles with an eye on the postseason and World Series.