Orioles' Adam Jones takes a swing in the team's first… (Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore…)
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Adam Jones is in one of his moods and it's hard to blame him.
The Orioles did what many thought would be impossible in 2012. They ended a string of 14 straight losing seasons and played all the way into October before losing a very tight American League Division Series to the New York Yankees.
So why is everybody so convinced that they will stumble back to mediocrity this year? Why are the so-called experts and oddsmakers setting the bar so low when the Orioles have basically the same team back and have a chance to get much more from several key players who were injured in 2013?
"Sometimes," Jones says with a sneer, "I wish the media would just shut the hell up."
There's no chance of that, of course. This is the era of the 24-hour sports news cycle, and that beast has to be fed a lot more than three meals per day. The rest of us have to eat, too, so the next five or six weeks will be spent in constant analysis of the 30 major league teams as they prepare to begin anew.
Jones, who is preparing to go off to the World Baseball Classic this weekend, just wants to know why everyone is so obsessed with predicting the future, especially after being so wrong about the Orioles at this time last spring.
"If you try to predict like everybody else around baseball, you end up making yourself look like a [fool], like we made a lot of people look like last year," he says. "I thought in the real world, people allow things to develop before they form opinions, but I guess not.
"Where were the Red Sox supposed to be last year? The Angels were supposed to win the whole circuit and they didn't even get to the playoffs. You can't predict anything in life. You can't. So why try? People try continuously to predict things you can't predict, so good luck with that."
The preseason darling of the American League East is the Toronto Blue Jays, who pulled off a series of dynamic deals to upgrade last year's 73-win club. If you're not sold on them, the experts and the oddsmakers seem to like everybody else in the division better than the Orioles.
Head over to the Bovada Internet sports gambling site and take a look at the futures odds for the 2013 season. The over/under win total for the Orioles is 781/2, which might not sound so bad until you compare that with the other teams. Essentially, the oddsmakers are saying the Orioles are the 19th-ranked team in baseball.
Want to get as hot under the collar as Jones? Check out the odds on the AL East race and see who's the longest shot on the board.
You guessed it. The odds against the Orioles winning the division are 9-1. The Boston Red Sox, who were a complete mess last year, will get you only 5-1 odds. The Jays are a strong favorite, followed closely by the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Some of the nongambling-related analysts and stat crunchers think even less of the Orioles, predicting they will win as few as 74 games this season.
No wonder No. 10 is such an angry man. Everybody seems to think that last year, because the Orioles set a record for winning percentage in one-run games and won 16 straight extra-inning games, was nothing but a fluke.
"Bobby Valentine said, 'Oh, the Orioles are lucky, they're getting lucky breaks,'" Jones says. "This was after 115 games. There is not one person who can be lucky doing something 100 times. You can't do anything 100 times and be lucky.
"We played good baseball. That's the thing. People want to say the Red Sox had a bad year. The Yankees had a good year. Tampa had a good year. The Orioles overachieved. How did we overachieve, because we went out and won? You guys just hadn't seen it forever, so it kind of shocked the hell out of everybody instead of just like going with it."
Jones doesn't see how there's much luck involved at all. The Orioles didn't win all those one-run games and extra-inning marathons by accident.
"You've got a setup man with a 1.00 ERA for most of the year," Jones says. "You have another setup guy with a low-2 ERA. They get ground-ball outs. They throw strikes. You've got starters who get into the seventh inning. You've got a closer who led the league in saves ..."
The irritation finally is too much, and Jones realizes that trying to prove this point is, well, pointless.
"We don't want any credit," he barks. "Just say we overachieved. I'd rather them just say we're really not that good. We just overachieved, so we can just keep moving on, because we don't care. Just keep thinking that. I don't think there's a person in this clubhouse who gives a damn about anybody who wants to predict what we're going to do."
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog and listen when he co-hosts "The Week in Review" on Fridays at noon on WBAL (1090 AM) and at wbal.com.Orioles Insider | Live scores | Photos | Baseball app