Top Five: Orioles starts gone horribly wrong

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Brian McNally
You know you want to believe. You grew up on Orioles Magic. You're an old-timer and remember the glory days in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s. There was the pure joy of 1989 and, of course, the 1996 and 1997 playoff teams. But the younger O's set knows only heartache. So is their 19-9 start real? Or just another in a long line of mirages. Here are the worst of recent vintage.

5. 2011 » Remember last year? A 6-1 start and you were mildly intrigued with top pitching prospects ready to contribute. It was a brief love affair en route to a fourth straight last-place finish (69-93).

4. 2004 » A 20-16 record on May 16 and the shoots of a rebuild showed promise. Don't be silly. All it meant was third place at 78-84.

3. 1998 » You didn't know it was over yet. A third straight playoff appearance appeared a lock after a 10-2 start. But injuries took a toll in 1998, and manager Davey Johnson was missed. At 68-58 on Aug. 19, Baltimore won just 11 more games -- the start of 14 consecutive losing seasons.

2. 2008 » It was never really a division title contender. But this entertaining group started 6-1 and was on the fringe of the playoff race on July 4 with a 45-41 record. The Orioles finished last in the AL East (68-93).

1. 2005 » The Orioles started 30-16 with shortstop Miguel Tejada looking like a bargain as the rare free agent signing that chose Baltimore's "Confederate money" the year before. As late as June 19, the O's were 41-27 and in first place in the American League East. But by the end of the year they were in fourth (74-88).

- Brian McNally

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian McNally

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner