Birds In The Playoffs!

When the Texas Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels in the second game of a double header, what many (including us) thought was impossible this year happened: The Baltimore Orioles are in the 2012 Major League Playoffs!

No matter what happens with the three game series with at the Tampa Bay Rays this week, the Birds are in. The remaining question will be whether they enter as a wild card team, or as the winner of the American League East.

As we write this, the O’s are tied with the Yankees for the top spot in the division. The Yanks have a three game set at home against the Boston Red Sox. Normally, we would think the Sox would be a tough series for the Yankees, but the Sox have been mailing it in this year. We can only hope their hatred of the Yankees will help them play better.

The O’s magic number for the division is four (4).

We never would have believed this at the beginning of the year.

Go get ’em O’s!

How Are The O’s Tied For The Wild Card?

If you have been following Major League Baseball this year, there is one question that has to be asked:

How are the Baltimore Orioles tied for the top of the wild card race and a mere one game behind the vaunted Yankees for the division lead?

The answer is not in payroll. At the start of the season, the Orioles had the 19th highest payroll in the Majors out of 30 teams. The total payroll for the O’s is $81,428,999. That’s a lot of money, but nowhere near the Yankees’ payroll of $197,962,289.

Even stranger are some of the statistics for the team. Right now they are 18th in runs scored, 23rd in overall batting average, and 25th in on base percentage. It’s not like the pitching has been stellar either. They O’s rank 18th in ERA, 24th in quality starts, 20th in WHIP, and 17th batting average of opposing teams.

The most amazing statistic may be the O’s have been outscored by 35 runs over the course of the season. There is not another team in the Majors that has a winning record if they are outscored much less being in contention for the division title and wild card race.

So how in the world are the Orioles 75 – 59 (.560)?

This may be the most crazy team statistically in the history of professional baseball.

However, tied for the Wild Card and just one game behind the Yankees for the division, we’ll take it.

Mike Flanagan December 16, 1951 – August 24, 2011

UPDATE: August 26, 2011. has an Associated Press article which says that Flanagan’s death was a suicide.

Former Cy Young Award winner Mike Flanagan died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head, the Maryland medical examiner ruled Thursday.

A police investigation revealed that the 59-year-old pitcher was upset about financial issues. He left no note.

Flanagan’s body was found Wednesday afternoon about 250 feet behind his home. An investigation showed he was home alone when he took his life.

Stunning. Simply stunning.

Former Baltimore Oriole, Oriole Hall of Fame member and Cy Young Award winner Mike Flanagan has passed away at the age of 59.

[Flanagan] spent more than 30 years with the Orioles as a player, coach, front office executive and broadcaster.

Selected by the Orioles in the seventh round of the 1973 amateur draft, Flanagan went on to pitch 18 major league seasons, including parts of 15 with the Orioles. He was a key member of the 1983 world champions, going 12-4 with a 3.30 ERA in the regular season and winning Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Chicago White Sox.

The left-hander won 141 games in his Orioles career, including an American League-leading 23 in 1979, when the Orioles lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.

Flanagan won the American League Cy Young Award that year as the league’s top pitcher and finished sixth in Most Valuable Player voting.

His lone All-Star season was in 1978, when he won 19 games in 40 starts, tied for the most in the league.

When we heard of Flanagan’s death last night, we were stunned. We remember him on the mound at Memorial Stadium and being, well, just being Mike Flanagan.

To explain what that means, read Tim Kurkjian’s piece over at on Flanagan. Kurkjian has a lot of memories of both Flanagan the pitcher, the general manager, but most all, the friend. Like many, Kurkjian remembers Flanagan’s sense of humor.

When Memorial Stadium closed down in 1991, after the game, all the players went to the positions at which they had played for the Orioles. There were two dozen pitchers on the mound when former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey got behind the plate and put down a sign. Dempsey was terrific defensively, and one of the game’s best throwers, but he wasn’t a particularly good game-caller. “All 25 pitchers shook him off,” said Flanagan.

Rest in peace, Mike. You will me missed.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Learn to Shoot with Both Hands.

Baltimore Oriole left fielder Luke Scott had surgery to repair a SLAP tear in his right labrum on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. Normally we would not give something like this a great deal of notice. However, the Orioles were the team of our youth and old habits die hard. How much were they the team we lived and died with?

Yes, we were “Junior Orioles.”

Yes, we know the words to “Bomb ‘Em Birds” and can still sing the song.

Yes, we believe that the 1971 Orioles pitching staff – the last staff to have four 20 game winners on it (Palmer, Cuellar, Dobson, McNally) – was one of the greatest staffs of all time.

We loved Boog Powell at first base and believe the Mark Belanger is one of the greatest defensive shortstops of all time.

And we haven’t even talked about the Robinson brothers, Brooks and Frank. (There is a joke in there in case you don’t know.)

We watched games from every level of Memorial Stadium, loving the smell of the hot dogs, the ice cold Coke and the crunch of peanuts under your feet. It was where we learned to keep score in a scorebook, writing down pitches and plays to relive the game in our minds later on.

We listened to Chuck “Go to War Miss Agnes” Thompson in the car and on a little off white transistor radio while sitting on the back porch with our dad.

We sat in section 34 with “Wild Bill Hagy” singing the national anthem and yelling when “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” was played during the seventh inning stretch.

When we weren’t bleeding the blue and white of the Baltimore Colts, we were bleeding orange and black of the O’s.

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