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OriLOLes

Who in their right mind would ever want to work for Peter Angelos?

The preceding question was buried a bit in the wake of Baltimore’s extraordinary 2012 season, in which Buck Showalter led a roster almost entirely constructed by fired GM Andy MacPhail to a wild card berth and the club’s first playoff appearance since 1997.

Last week, the Orioles agreed to terms with closer Grant Balfour, but backed out. According to Ken Rosenthal, “their doctors were not satisfied with the physical.” These things happen, especially in a league like MLB where the commissioner’s office routinely reveals agreed upon contracts before completion. But was anything actually wrong with Balfour?

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The 2012 baseball season came to a conclusion a little more than a week ago when Sergio Romo struck out Miguel Cabrera to earn the San Francisco Giants their second World Series title in three years. There were, generally speaking, three reactions to this finale: 1) From Giants fans: “Woohoo!”; 2) From Detroit Tigers fans: “Noooo!”; 3) From all other baseball fans: “Meh” (or else, “Of all the seasons I’ve ever followed, this was certainly one of them.”).

Due to its structure, which includes scheduled competitions almost every day for seven months, Major League Baseball tends to be followed by fans in a different manner than the avid followers of other sports. We typically cheer for our favorite teams, but don’t necessarily care all that much about what other clubs are doing so long as it doesn’t affect the one that we support. This is a by-product of there being such an ample supply of baseball to be followed. We have to pick and choose, or else we’d be reduced to living our lives without much in the way of variety.

This is likely best seen by comparing nationally televised games of baseball to nationally televised games of football. While baseball plays out a 162 game schedule, the National Football League’s regular season schedule consists of a mere 16 games for each team. Nationally broadcast games of football absolutely slaughter nationally broadcast games of baseball in terms of television ratings partly because there’s a more limited supply of content for fans to consume and more meaning behind each game. This caters to the neutral observer in a way that 162 game schedules simply can’t.

Despite the differences in the way that baseball is played compared to other sports, stories still emerge throughout each season that transcend the boundaries that normally govern our favorite team-based interests. Here, in my opinion, are the top ten stories to do this from the 2012 Major League Baseball season.

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Courtesy of Fangraphs and a few personal touches, we get a quantitative idea of what tonight’s extra inning loss for the Baltimore Orioles meant in terms of Meme Probability Added. For a more complete complete picture, check out the live updates of tonight’s game in New York.

A lot has been made this week about the Orioles surprise call-up of 20-year-old phenom shortstop Manny Machado. The move was made after a torrid couple weeks from Machado at AA-Bowie, but overall, his numbers there this season suggested that he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues. Even with that hot streak, Machado had a decent—but by no means spectacular—.266/.352/.438 slash line with 11 home runs in 459 plate appearances in AA and the track record of 20-year-olds having success at the Major League level is shoddy at best. It seemed an odd move for a team that miraculously is still in contention.

Then again, given the lack of actual talent on the Orioles roster, it seemed like a low-risk move of self-awareness for Dan Duquette’s front office. The chances that Machado would outperform—both offensively and defensively—the shit-bag combination of Robert Andino and Wilson Betemit at third base for Baltimore seemed at least plausible.

Two games in and Duquette and his team look brilliant. Yeah, yeah—small sample size and all that, but Machado hasn’t looked at all out of place so far against Major League pitching. After a 2-for-4 performance with a triple in his debut, Machado followed it up with another 2-for-4 performance last night against the Royals and this time both hits were home runs.

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When 83-bagillion-year-old Jamie Moyer was released by the Rockies last week, we all wondered and speculated with baited breath as to whether or not this was the end for the geriatric old man. Not so! The Baltimore Orioles, trying their best to reclaim the OriLOLes nickname, signed Moyer to a minor-league contract and sent him to AAA-Norfolk for some tune-up starts

Not only is Moyer old, but he was ineffective in his stint with the Rockies posting a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts. Going from the NL West to the AL East (and from one extreme hitter’s park to another) is not likely to help Moyer’s numbers, but that hasn’t stopped some from reading way too much into his start for the Norfolk Tides yesterday.

In said start, the white-haired, wrinkly-faced Moyer threw five shutout innings, allowed just one hit and walked zero against the Buffalo Bisons. Most are viewing this as a positive step in Moyer’s re-integration in to the Majors, but a lineup that includes the likes of Corey Wimberly, Brad Emaus, Fred Lewis and Matt Tuiasosopo doesn’t inspire in me the confidence to go draft him in my fantasy pool.

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Even the uninitiated should know that Joshua Holt Hamilton is a very skilled baseball player. The former first overall pick of the Devil Rays hit his 18th home run of the season yesterday while his Rangers lost to the Angels. Hamilton has played in just 31 games this season and has just 138 plate appearances.

Don’t worry, I’ve got all the math right here to show you just how ridiculous that is:

  • Hamilton has hit one home run for every 7.67 plate appearances he’s had this season
  • Hamilton has averaged 0.58 home runs per game played
  • Hamilton is on pace to hit 86 home runs this season
  • No other player has ever hit this many home runs through his team’s first 34 games
  • Hamilton has more home runs than Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, Alex Rodriguez and David Wright combined.
  • Hamilton has spent more than six-and-a-half minutes rounding the bases this season
  • Hamilton’s home runs have travelled 1.37 miles (or 2.2 km for us normal thinking folk)

In other words, Josh Hamilton is awesome.

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You may remember back to a couple of weeks ago when we told you about Dontrelle Willis and his strange communication breakdown with the front office staff of the Baltimore Orioles in getting his release from their Triple A affiliate in Norfolk.

Basically, Willis signed on with the Orioles after getting released by the Philadelphia Phillies. They sent him to the Minor Leagues where he was used primarily as a reliever. The left handed pitcher didn’t really want to be used as a reliever, and so he spoke with the team’s front office and told him he’d rather seek employment elsewhere than pitch out of the bullpen.

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