This is a big sports weekend for anyone from Baltimore. The Orioles will be playing in their first playoff game in 15 years. While that in and of itself is notable; what's more interesting is how the Orioles got to this point. At 93-69, the 2012 Orioles have turned in one of the best seasons the franchise has had in 30 years and they've done with a patchwork of young talent and just-off-the-scrap-heap veterans.
It's really hard to overstate how incredible the performance this season. ESPN has a tool on its site that calculates what a team's record "should be" vs what it actually is. According to this, the Orioles should have a record of 82-80. In other words, they are an average team on paper yet they've made the playoffs.
Their success is reminiscent of the 2001 Maryland Football team. If you recall, it was Ralph Friedgen's first year and the Terps hadn't had a winning season in more than a decade. In fact, the Wikipedia article on Maryland Football refers to 1987-2000 as "the dark years". 2001 was different. That year, the Fridge got his kids to believe in his system and they just got better each week. It started with a dominant win in the ACC opener vs UNC and carried all the way to a Thursday night game in Atlanta against a very good Georgia Tech team. I happened to attend that game and remember vividly as Nick Novak raced onto the field with the clock winding down as he booted a game-tying 47 yard field goal.
What a moment it was. It was emblematic of the entire season. You see, there was no time to think. Nick had to just run out and kick it. This year's O's have a little bit of that "don't think, just play" mentality. Add to that the fact that everyone loves an underdog; season's like this are special for fans.
Now, how does this relate to our 2012 football Terps? I'm not sure it does. Yet. It could though. The Terps have shown life where no one expected it. We've got freshman leading the way on offense (Hill and Diggs) and a defense that appears to be quite stout. The West Virginia loss could be a defining one for this team. WVU has one of the best offenses in the country and the Terps held them in check. If not for some freshman-itis on offense, the Terps could have had a chance to win the game.
As we sit on the eve on the start of ACC portion of the schedule, the Terps have a shot to do what the O's have done. Shock everyone and win a bunch of games. Can they win the ACC Atlantic Division? Not with Clemson and FSU looming. Can they have a winning season and make a bowl? You betcha.
It starts with Wake tomorrow. Wake is beatable. Let's go out and get a win and start building that momentum that the 2001 Terps and 2012 Orioles know so well. It starts tomorrow.
Finally, I leave you with this since my Orioles will be kicking the dirt off their cleats in about 7 hours. It's a quote from the Bible, but it is also a quote from one of the best sports movies ever made:
And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen.
Go Orioles. Go Terps.