So the Orioles are heading to the postseason for the first time since 2016. Maybe you haven’t paid attention to them and want to catch up before the first playoff game. Or you watched all year and just love them so much you want to learn more.

Either way, you’ve come to the right place. The Baltimore Banner’s beat writers, Danielle Allentuck and Andy Kostka, watched every game this season, traveling the country to report on this team. They’ve created the definitive bandwagon guide to tell you everything you need to know before the Orioles hit the field Saturday in the American League Division Series.

How the playoffs work

Bubba Thompson #8 of the Texas Rangers is tagged out stealing by Adam Frazier #12 of the Baltimore Orioles in the eighth inning during a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 27, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

First, it’s important to know how the postseason format works. The Orioles won the American League East and earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the American League Championship Series. They’ll start their playoff journey in the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers, who swept the Tampa Bay Rays in two games in the wild-card round.

Here’s the schedule. Fox and FS1 will air all ALDS games. It’s a best-of-five series; first team to three wins moves on.

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ALDS Game 1: Oct. 7 at Camden Yards, 1 p.m.

ALDS Game 2: Oct. 8 at Camden Yards, TBD.

ALDS Game 3: Oct. 10 at Texas, TBD.

ALDS Game 4, if needed: Oct. 11 at Texas, TBD.

ALDS Game 5, if needed: Oct. 13 at Camden Yards, TBD.

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The American League Championship Series will begin Oct. 15 followed, by the World Series on Oct. 27. Both series are best-of-seven.

The team

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Gunnar Henderson and catcher Adley Rutschman take a calm sip of beer in the clubhouse amidst the chaos following the team’s playoff-clinching win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, September 17, 2023. The Orioles earned a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

There are 26 players on the roster, but we won’t bore you with all their names. It’s important to know the young stars, such as infielder Gunnar Henderson and catcher Adley Rutschman. They are the new faces of the team and typically hit 1-2 at the top of the lineup.

Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander and Austin Hays will probably be the starting outfield. They’ve been together as the team has been rebuilt and finally get to experience the playoffs together. Ryan O’Hearn, a first baseman and designated hitter, was traded from the Royals in January for cash considerations. He didn’t make the team out of spring training. Now, he’s their top hitter.

On the pitching side, Kyle Bradish should get the ball in the first playoff game. Grayson Rodriguez — the rookie who is better than ever after spending two months in Triple-A — should be behind him in Game 2. After that, expect some combination of John Means, back after Tommy John surgery, Dean Kremer and Kyle Gibson.

In the bullpen, the Orioles will have to soldier on without closer Félix Bautista. He partially tore his UCL in August and will undergo Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Yennier Cano, DL Hall, Shintaro Fujinami and Danny Coulombe have been handling the late innings.

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Key moments

Baltimore Orioles outfielders Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays and Anthony Santander pose for a photo together during the team’s celebration in the clubhouse following their playoff-clinching win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, September 17, 2023. The Orioles earned a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The Orioles got here in large part because of decisions made in 2018 and beyond. That’s when the previous regime continued to mold regulars such as Hays, Mullins and Santander, and it’s when they drafted right-hander Rodriguez. Soon after, Mike Elias took over as general manager. The following years with Elias in charge have included a robust revitalization of Baltimore’s farm system through the draft and international scouting, and the result is this: a first American League East championship since 2014.

At a more micro level, the Orioles got to the postseason this year in large part because of a tendency to come back late in games. Some of those comeback wins created the most memorable moments of the year.

The high jinks

Baltimore Orioles starting pitchers spit out water from the dugout to celebrate catcher Adley Rutschman’s triple in the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore on August 9, 2023. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Pay attention to the moments when the ball isn’t in play, and you’re bound to notice the intricacies of Orioles traditions.

A single? The motion the Orioles baserunner does is turning on the mock faucet. A double or triple? The batter mimics a sprinkler celebration while the starting pitchers in the dugout spray water out of their mouths.

Water is a consistent theme. It began with an idea from Cole Irvin early in the year. He suggested that Baltimore create a Bird Bath section. The idea stuck, and the Splash Zone has been one of the best sections in Camden Yards.

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And then there’s the Homer Hose. Hitting long balls is thirsty work, so once a player reaches the dugout, his teammates grab a hose with a funnel at the end. Then they pour water down it for the homer hitter to drink.

This is an Orioles team that can be very serious when the moment calls for it — and then flips a switch to lean on the youthful energy.

Where to watch

The best place to watch is Camden Yards, and fans can buy tickets here.

But, all around Baltimore, bars will show postseason baseball. When a schedule is confirmed, watch parties will likely follow. For advanced planning purposes, it’s always a safe bet to head to Pickles Pub or Section 711, bars only a stone’s throw from the stadium. Pickles, especially, is an iconic Orioles establishment that will be festive before, during and after games.

Farther afield, Canton is full of sports bars, and Mahaffey’s Pub, Ellie’s Tavern, Claddagh Pub and The Dive are all worthy eat-and-drink locations for Orioles games. In Federal Hill or Locust Point, Riverside Taphouse, Hull Street Blues Café and Hair of the Dog are slightly off the beaten bath — and that’s a good thing.

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For a craft beer experience, breweries such as Guilford Hall, Mobtown, Diamondback and Checkerspot are clutch.

When the Orioles are in the postseason, the only bad seat in town is one without a view of the game.

danielle.allentuck@thebaltimorebanner.com

andy.kostka@thebaltimorebanner.com

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