Allegany Communications Sports­­

We talked last week about the end of the baseball season, at least for your particular team; and sure enough, all day on Wednesday we read and listened to the goodbyes for now from nearly everybody associated with the Baltimore Orioles.

It’s sad to say goodbye when you’re not even ready to say so long, and you could feel the melancholy in the messages and the videos, because the previous six months had been the time of so many lives, particularly young baseball fans in Baltimore.

Still, everybody was upbeat, as they, and everybody who follows the Orioles, should be. The loss and the sweep should not be forgotten, because there is just so much to look forward to. Those baby faces we saw exposed in the glare of the national spotlight for, really, the first time? They’re soon going to be whiskered and experienced faces.

And though Joe Cocker once said, “You’re feelin’ alright? Oh, no, I’m not feelin’ too good myself, no, no; Scarlett O’Hara did promise, “Tomorrow is another day.”

And with this team, and with this organization, it’s likely not going to take too many tomorrows, but it sure looks as though there are going to be a lot of them.

What an absolutely wonderful season for the Orioles and for the good people of Baltimore. It might not have seemed that way on Wednesday, but that’s how it is when excitement and happiness provide hope for six months and then, in the words of Mr. Giamatti, “when you need it most, it stops …”

Nonetheless, a most unfortunate and ironic conclusion to the season of a team that won 101 games, the division title and hadn’t been swept in any series for 17 months does not even scratch the performance and the trajectory of this baseball team. The truth is, the Texas Rangers outplayed the Orioles. There’s no rocket science involved here.

The Orioles are currently best built for 162 games, the powerful and experienced Rangers are better suited for postseason and series.

The Orioles won 11 more games than the Rangers did in the regular season, but the Rangers had a run differential of plus-36. The Orioles didn’t take pitches, hit with runners in scoring position or get runners into scoring position in the ALDS. The bullpen (with one exception) was okay, but the starting pitching in the final two games was not, and the Rangers got on base, hit home runs and prevented runs. That’s the difference between postseason and 162.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the better-suited team for the postseason won the postseason series.

As for the playoff format that is said to have been harmful to top seeds (other than the Astros), the Orioles are not using this as an excuse, nor should they, because it was important to get the top seed. The current format, though, is what it is.

The Orioles did have five days off between the end of the season and Game 1. Then they played three games over four days. There were four days off during the All-Star break, time players need rest for the second-half push.

Baseball is routine, and baseball players hate having to take a break. Timing in baseball becomes delayed. At no point during the regular season did the Orioles play as few baseball games in an 11-day stretch as they did to the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs.

That does matter and their not having game-reps at this point of the season matters a lot.

So, did the Orioles do enough to get postseason-ready?

General manager Mike Elias began his end-of-season news conference saying “Any shortcomings that people perceive of the 2023 campaign should be directed at me.

“I just want to thank our players — a tremendous group of people, of individuals. We asked a lot of them, and they delivered.”

Does Elias think he did enough at the trade deadline to bolster the Orioles’ roster?

“I lament that our outcomes at the trade deadline didn’t propel us through the ALDS. On the other hand, I was very focused on winning the division, and we did that.”

Elias said the Orioles dreamed of winning the AL East title during the rebuild.

“This group of players, regardless of where they go in their careers, I hope the city of Baltimore remembers this group for kind of reminding the world, ‘This is Baltimore and we do baseball here.’”

That has again been established and from here on in, sans ownership shenanigans, that is a full go.

The beer is cold in Baltimore again, hon, and Chuck Thompson is smiling.

So must Baltimore. They’ll get used to it, too, and they will love it. Again.

“Ain’t the beer cold!”

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT