Not all was misery in 2012.
Cole Hamels concluded his stellar season with his seventeenth win yesterday. He could easily have won 20 win a little more support from his offense and bullpen. Hamels' decision to re-sign with the Phils during the season was one of those "he likes us!" moments.
Jim Thome was traded to Baltimore in mid-season to give the big guy a chance to DH exclusively and, perhaps, reach the post-season one more time. He accomplished both goals.
Speaking of the O's, they have had an astonishing year by any measure. The most telling mark of all was their ability to win close games late or in extra innings. Looking over their roster, one is struck by the absence of many marquee players. Their most consistent star over the years, Nick Markakis, was injured several weeks ago and probably won't return for the post-season. Adam Jones has had a fine year. Jim Johnson saved 50 games and counting. There are more than a few retreads, has-beens or never-weres on the club, but they have kept on winning. GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter are rightfully being given a lot of credit, but from a management standpoint the biggest change is probably that infamously meddling owner Peter Angelos has stayed in the background and allowed his front office to run the team.
The alleged brain trust of MLB added a second Wild Card spot before the start of the season to generate (in this order) more income and more fan interest in more cities. They have succeeded...up to a point. The second WC winners play a single elimination game, which is bound to leave a bad taste in the collective mouths of the players and their fans. "You mean that's it?????!!!!"
But, then, again, not all was great news....
Several big articles have appeared in national newspapers and journals hailing the return of post-season baseball to the nation's capital. Here's one observer who still thinks DC is a lousy baseball town. Check out the attendance figures for the home games in Washington through yesterday:
2,264,786 overall attendance
Hardly overwhelming support for the first post-season baseball team in DC since 1933.