Major League Baseball was turned on its head, momentarily.
But now it’s found the right path, and traditional winning teams don’t have to worry.
I get a certain petty satisfaction at looking at the American League East standings, just over a month into the season, and seeing New York and Boston at the bottom of the list. Never mind that the Yankees are still above .500 and are only three-and-a-half games back from the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, any fan of the underdog needs to hold onto these few moments of joy while they last.
I’m an Orioles fan, so bear with me.
Two games back, after the O’s completed a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, they had the best record in Major League Baseball and were riding high atop the American League East.
Baltimore usually has a strong start to the season in April, and then things start to tumble downhill in May. So winning its first five games of the month was a small victory on its own.
But then the trouble started on Monday.
The Texas Rangers pounded Baltimore 14-3 in the first game of a four-game series. I shrugged it off as just one of those inexplicable things about the game — a team can roll along for a while, but all streaks have to come to an end.
I hoped for a comeback on Tuesday, but it was even worse.
Josh Hamilton hit four home runs in the game, off of three pitchers, and had eight RBIs in the Rangers’ 10-3 win over the Orioles.
Everyone loves a good redemption story, and Hamilton’s couldn’t be better if it had been written by Disney’s top writers.
The guy has gone from someone with very serious substance abuse problems to one of the best hitters in baseball’s premiere league and the 2010 American League MVP, and as much as I’d like to try to take that away from him after the relentless beating he gave my team on Tuesday, it really can’t be done.
Baltimore won one of two games of a doubleheader on Thursday, but the win was an unimpressive 6-5, and the Orioles gave up the second game 7-3.
There have been mutterings about Baltimore’s new-found success and what it could mean for the team, but the Rangers pretty much sorted all of that out in two games.
Texas won American League pennants in both of the last two years, so it’s not like Baltimore was beat by a team like the Minnesota Twins (8-22), but a team has to be able to compete at the highest level of play to be deserving of more than a wink and a nod at sports desks in New York and Los Angeles.
The old power structure in Major League Baseball will remain the same, at least for several years. April and May wins really don’t matter, especially when teams get into serious stretches of division games later in the summer. That’s when the money teams shift ahead and the little guys, God bless them, fall by the wayside.
Michael Gebelein is sports editor of the Lincoln Times-News.