Who’s on…. second?

The famous Abbott and Costello skit “Who’s on First” declares a guy named “Who” is on first and a guy named “What” is on second. But for the 2013 Baltimore Orioles, it’s not a question of what being on second but who? Are you following along?… Good!

Let’s begin then.

Four years ago in 2009 the answer to the question “who plays second for the Orioles?” was an easy one, Brian Roberts. Between 2003 and 2009 Roberts’ name might as well have been printed on Oriole lineup cards leading off and playing second base. However since the end of the 2009 season, Roberts has been plagued by injuries (perhaps the most absurd being his self-inflicted concussion) and has played in just 115 games for the O’s.

Roberts has hit at least 50 doubles in three seasons as an Oriole. (AP Photo)

Manager Buck Showalter will have a few options to fill the hole at second base. Roberts, now 35-years-old, is expected to be completely healthy for the start of spring training. However this past offseason the Orioles claimed Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Minnesota Twins and Ryan Flaherty, who started 20 games at second for the birds in 2012, is also on the roster.

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Bird songs: “The Earl of Baltimore” by Terry Cashman

Terry Cashman, a songwriter and lead singer of The Chevrons in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, as well as one of the producers of the famous Jim Croce, is famous for his songs about baseball. His most famous piece is “Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey and the Duke).” However Cashman also recorded songs about specific teams and players, including the late Earl Weaver.

Weaver led the O’s to more wins than any other Orioles manager since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Weaver became the manager of the Orioles in 1968. In the next three seasons as Baltimore’s skipper, he led the O’s to three consecutive World Series, four total with one victory in 1970.

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Revisiting: 2012 Orioles magic

“Something magic happens every time you go…”

The opening lyric of “Orioles Magic,” what has been the Orioles’ anthem for over 40 years, definitely applied to the 2012 Baltimore Orioles. Last season’s Orioles team defied all odds by staying competitive in, what is usually deemed Major League Baseball’s toughest division, the American League East, with a negative run differential for most of the season, a 20th ranked team batting average, and an 14th ranked team ERA.

In the March 2012 edition of ESPN the Magazine’s MLB preview, Buster Olney wrote that the best-case scenario for the 2012 O’s was:

“Left-handers Brian Matsuz and Zach Britton make major strides before the team is crushed under the weight of a powerful division. For the sixth straight year, Baltimore fails to win 70 games; for the 15th straight year, the team has a losing record. Yes, this is the best-case scenario.”

That wasn’t the case.

The Orioles stayed competitive by winning close games. The team posted a 29-9 record in one-run games. The .763 win percentage to go along with it was the third best in MLB history, trailing only teams from the late-1800’s.  Baltimore was 16-2 in extra-inning games, all of those wins were consecutive. The MLB record for such a streak — the 1949 Cleveland Indians won 17.

Baltimore finished second in the AL East, trailing the New York Yankees by just 2 games. Their team record of 93-69 was the best record posted by the franchise since their last playoff appearance in 1997. The O’s were participants in MLB’s newly-expanded playoffs. In the first wild card playoff, the Orioles traveled to Arlington, Texas to face the back-to-back defending American League champion Texas Rangers.

Behind a gutsy pitching performance by Joe Saunders and the Oriole bullpen, the O’s defeated the Rangers 5-1 and advanced to the American League Division Series for the first time since that ’97 playoff run. In the ALDS, the Orioles met the Bronx Bombers and eventually bowed out after a five-game series.

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