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Orioles, Nationals Still Sticking Around

Orioles outfielders celebrate after a win. CF Adam Jones leads the team with 94 runs. Photo courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.com

In one of the most unique and surprising Major League Baseball seasons there has been in past years, the 2012 MLB year enters the playoff chase, the hunt for October.
As a baseball fan, this part of the season puts a smile on my face.

What this 2012 baseball season has taught many people in the country is this; one cannot predict baseball. In a sport where players fail more than they succeed, teams like the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals, who have been haunted with last place finishes for decades, now see the light ahead and share the glory.

Baltimore, who plays in arguably the most challenging division baseball, the American League East, is a team whose payroll is just below $81,000,000. That may sound like a lot of money to the average U.S. citizen, but when you take two teams in their division like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox and combine their payrolls, the result is a staggering $342,369,623.

At the end of the 2011 MLB season, the Orioles saw themselves at the bottom of the totem pole, looking up to four teams in their division, at a record of 69-93 and the fourth-worst record in all of baseball.

As of September 18, Baltimore trails New York by one half game in the division but shares the Wild Card lead. If the season ended on 9/18, the Orioles would be in the playoffs.

Let’s switch to the National League, where one team similar to Baltimore can finally say that in 2012, we’re making dreams become an actual reality.
Since the 2004 season, the Washington Nationals have finished last in their division six times by an average of 26.4 games behind their National League East division winner.

Needless to say, Washington’s organization, ball players and fans were in need of a drastic and desperate change.

If you’re looking for a change, you should understand that change may take a little time, but when things start to come together, the ultimate reward is something to be seen.

The Nationals, who possessed the worst record in all of MLB in 2008 and 2009, had back-to-back number one draft picks in the MLB Draft that would arguably turn out to be the turning point for the franchise.
Washington’s 2008 number one draft pick, pitcher Steven Strasburg, and 2009 top-pick outfielder Bryce Harper have helped make Washington not only recognized in the 2012 season, but one of the best teams in baseball.
Behind the excitement and talents of main stars like Strasburg and Harper, the Nationals stand alone in their division and are currently the number one team in MLB.  Since 2004, the Nationals best year was a third place finish in 2011, one that will get replaced by this year’s squad.

The Nationals are on their way to the playoffs.

Folks, welcome to the chase to the playoffs.  Welcome to the hunt for October.

Michael Paonessa can be reached at michael.paonessa@spartans.ut.edu

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