O's embracing chaos during climb up standings

August 21st, 2022

This story was excerpted from Zachary Silver's Orioles Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

From Zachary Silver: This requires a special shoutout to Julia Kreuz, my colleague in Toronto, who not only provided coverage of the team against the Blue Jays this past week, but provided a look at their penchant for the T-shirt.

There are multiple forces at play within the Orioles, right now. But one in particular seems to follow wherever they go. 

Several Baltimore players showed up for their pregame routines in Toronto wearing T-shirts that read, “Chaos,” in the team’s font -- another sign that this group has embraced the role of spoiler as it continues its climb through the American League rankings. 

“I think the shirt speaks to that,” said reliever Dillon Tate. “It feels good to do more than what people thought we were going to do.” 

The shirt’s origins have become a sort of myth. The only thing Orioles players seem to know is that, one day, the threads showed up in the clubhouse as part of a package from BreakingT, sporting a concept many could get behind. 

“We’re definitely causing chaos, right now,” said reliever Joey Krehbiel, who passed around the shirts, but says he doesn’t know where the idea came from. “It’s not like we’re playing better than we’re supposed to be, because we know that we can do exactly what we’re doing. But maybe, outside looking in, it’s like, ‘Oh, OK, maybe they are disrupting the division or causing chaos, if you will.” 

The Orioles aren’t simply ahead of schedule. They are swiftly moving from fluke status to a club to watch, taking key games from division opponents with a well-rounded brand of baseball that counts on several different contributors every night. 

Case in point, Baltimore’s 15-10 win over the Red Sox on Friday night, in which they hit five homers and still, somehow, things almost got out of hand. 

Though the Orioles still sit outside of an AL Wild Card spot, they took 11 of 17 games in August prior to entering play on Saturday, outscoring their opponents 87-70.

They’re loving every second of it. 

“I feel really good about this group,” said Tate. “This is the closest that I’ve, personally, been with this group so far, so that piece bodes well for us. Just good team camaraderie, chemistry -- whatever you want to call it -- and we’re playing good baseball. So, a lot of good things are happening, right now.” 

Meanwhile, expected AL contenders such as the Blue Jays, Rays and Twins scuffle to hang onto postseason spots. 

That’s what makes this moment especially fun, even if far from perfect. 

“We don’t have any boring wins,” said Krehbiel. “We’re getting hits when we’re supposed to, getting strikeouts when we’re supposed to. It’s never just another win. It’s always something exciting, which makes it very fun to watch.” 

But the imperative word is still “chaos.” And the flipside of disrupting the status quo is being more closely examined when things don’t go right. 

The Orioles have come close to being no-hit twice in two weeks -- against the Rays and Blue Jays -- and it’s clear that, while this pitching staff is talented, it is also young and prone to costly mistakes. 

Still, Baltimore’s youngsters are focusing on learning as they go. And there’s no better way to do it than to run straight into the hurricane.