Friday, October 5, 2012

It's About Time: Orioles Return to Postseason After 14 Losing Seasons

I was in utero when Ripken caught the final out on the turf of the Vet in 1983. The Baltimore Orioles were World Champions.

My voice had just started to crack the year another 12-year old, by the name of Jeffrey Maier, reached over the right-field wall at Yankee stadium and interfered with the Oriole's Tony Tarasco's ability to catch a mere fly ball in the eighth inning. Instead, it's ruled a homerun by right-field umpire, Ray Garcia. The Evil Empire goes on to take a 1-0 series lead and both Jeter and Maier are deemed NY heroes en route to their own World Championship in 1996. I still cannot speak the name Jeffrey Maier without twitching in angst.

Then there was 1997, a year we held first-place for the entire season. Wire-to-Wire. The Birds were destined, and favored, to win it all. Despite stellar pitching performances from their ace, Mike Mussina, '97 would result in the same disappointment.

and then there was 1998...

and 1999...

and 2000...

and 2001...

14 straight losing seasons.

Since then I have moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia, graduated college, married the love of my life, graduated seminary, had twins, bought a house, and held onto the faintest hope that maybe my children would see the day of meaningful October baseball. I have lived as an exile in Philadelphia, singing the songs of the Phillies, and participating in championship parades down Broad Street in the City of Brotherly Love. Yet my heart remains in Baltimore. My sports fanaticism is purely linked to Charm City.

My baseball blood is orange and black.

During my lifetime, I have had to rely on legends of the Oriole Way and Oriole Magic that resulted in the two-and-a-half decades of championship caliber baseball. These were the 60's, 70's, and early 80's.

But they were just tales, myths, and aging stories.

So as I sit here sipping coffee on the morning of the Orioles first playoff game in 15 years, there is new meaning to bird brain. I am jittery. I am anxious. I am excited. I am confident. I am nervous. I am hungry.

It's been a long wait. Baseball is back in Baltimore. We have a determined and reputable manager, peeking prospects, unabashed rookies, and a front office that is finally getting it right.

Buck Showalter continues to say the team is playing with "house money." No one expected them to be where they are. They were supposed to lose 90+ games.

They won 93.

And they have to win 94 if this magical run is to continue.

8:30 p.m. could not come soon enough. #BUCKleUP