Remember Orioles magic (2012 edition)?
A mere two months ago, local fans embraced a young Orioles team for their resiliency in finding ways to win, consistency in extra-inning games, and how these ballplayers exemplified the word team.
Resilient, consistent, and team are all words used to describe the 2012 Baltimore Orioles. Well, the same can apply for this Baltimore Ravens squad.
The major issue is the same things people praised the Orioles for don’t seem to be good enough when it comes to the football team. Frankly, it doesn’t make sense given that the Ravens possess an 8-2 record and a two-game lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
Let’s break it down a little bit, shall we?
How many times were the Orioles counted out last season? If I remember correctly, it was before the first pitch was even thrown. How many times did doubt end in 25 men jumping in unison around home plate celebrating another walk-off win and a subsequent pie to the face?
The American Leage East division took 181 games to decide and unfortunately for the Orioles, they ended up finishing in second – a feat anyone would have been happy with prior to seeing the team depart Sarasota, Fl. from Spring Training.
What the Orioles did in 2012 was nothing short of magical and there is nothing anyone could possibly complain about given the expectations placed on that team.
Well, speaking of resiliency…
This season, the Ravens have accomplished their own resilient feats. A last-second field goal to beat the Patriots with a rookie kicker…a special-teams emergence from a unit that struggled mightily in previous years.
Two particularly resilient feats were the team pulling out victories over the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers virtually without an offense on the field. Regardless of who gets the finger pointed at them for the offensive hiatus, the team somehow found a way to win – that is resilient.
The only thing consistent about the Orioles as a unit the past 15 seasons was losing. This past season, consistency took a turn for the positive, as the Orioles, when leading after seven innings, had a 74-0 regular-season record. They were also winners of 16-straight extra-inning games at one point.
Are the Ravens consistent?
In the NFL, the Ravens and John Harbaugh are the epitome of consistency. In 2008, they began a streak of four consecutive playoff appearances (best in the NFL) with a rookie head coach and quarterback. That streak looks well on its way to extending to five straight.
No team can have the success the Ravens have unless they’ve been dominant in their division and conference. The Ravens are tied with the Patriots for the most wins (40) against their conference since 2008 and own a 12-game winning streak against the AFC North.
Home is where the heart is for this team as well; they’ve won 15-straight games at M&T Bank Stadium (best in the NFL at home) and have a streak of 69 consecutive games without falling below .500.
No one could preach consistency in Baltimore without mentioning Cal Ripken Jr. and his 2,632 consecutive games played but you can’t ignore the how much the Ravens helped distract people from the losing ways of the Orioles.
You’ve heard it said before, “no one man is greater than a team;” however, Ray Lewis is the closest exception to that rule.
Lewis is the glue that holds the squad together and with many superstars like Lewis aging and becoming battered and bruised, making team the focal point of the Ravens motto this season is a perfect choice.
Achieving a 7-1 record without Terrell Suggs, having a 3-1 record since Lewis and Lardarius Webb got injured…this team has shown the ability to overcome devastating blows by having younger and inexperienced players step up to fill those voids left by superstars.
In football, that’s a team.
The defense is looking better – they’ve given up 15, 20 and 10 points respectively since the bye week.
The bond between the Oriole teammates allowed the fans to latch onto them and legitimately care about the emotions of the players. Between multiple shaving-cream pies to the face, lip synched scoreboard sing-alongs and crazy bullpen antics led by Louis Ayala, you couldn’t help but root for these guys because they felt more like your friends than just a group of highly-paid athletes.
Additionally, the collective embrace of both of Baltimore’s professional teams for each other was the biggest win of all. Seeing Ravens at Orioles games and the ovation for the Orioles players from 70,000 at M&T Bank Stadium is something many won’t forget.
What the Orioles did in this past season was extraordinary and nothing short of remarkable. Given the parity in the NFL, the feats and accomplishments the Ravens have been able to put together over a longer period of time is even more admirable.
However, preseason expectations aside, there is just no way that someone should praise the Orioles for what they were able to accomplish last season but criticize the Ravens like they’re 2-8 when they are 8-2.