Baltimore — which has morphed into the perennial punching bag of the AL East, now that Tampa Bay has its act together — hasn’t made the playoffs since 1997. That year, the Orioles finished first in the division, but since then, they’ve failed to finish above fourth place every single year except one.
But players like Adam Jones give fans a smidgen of hope that the dark days may be coming to an end soon.
The 23-year-old represents the core of the new-age Orioles, serving as the centerfielder on a team whose entire outfield is under the age of 25. Baltimore has developed players like Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts into legitimate power threats and sound defenders, and it hopes to see the same progress from Jones.
“The future is brighter,” Jones told NESN’s Heidi Watney during Baltimore’s three-game visit to Boston in July.
In a breakout year, Jones is hitting .307 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs — which was good enough to land him a spot on this year’s All-Star roster.
“[It was] surreal,” he said. “The expressions you try to think of — I just can’t think of in a word. It’s still kind of unreal to me and it’s something I’ll cherish.”
Still, though, Jones realizes that personal honors don’t mean a thing if his team is playing golf in October — and he hopes to change that trend as soon as he can.
“I’ve been pleased [with my own play], but I’d rather win,” he said. “Personal success to me means nothing if the team’s success isn’t there.”
At least the fans know that Jones is on the same page as they are.