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The Orioles Are In

For most of this season, even as the good news kept coming, I qualified my discussion of the Orioles‘ playoff chances. It usually ran along the lines of “They’ll probably still fade, but…” I stopped that when things started to become real, but I never, ever counted any chickens. Until now, because it’s done. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are in the playoffs.

This is the most amazing Baltimore sports story since at least the Ravens‘ Super Bowl win and, honestly, probably farther back than that. My head might be clouded by joy but I’m thinking it might just be the best Baltimore sports story ever.

This group was slated by a range of supposedly expert observers to lose 90 games or more. Some called for 100+ losses. Nobody — nobody — mentioned, let alone seriously considered, the possibility that they would make the postseason.

It was beyond impossible. Now, it’s real.

Let’s take a moment to consider that:

Jake Arrieta started — and won — on opening day.

Miguel Gonzalez wasn’t on the team when the season started.

Nick Markakis has endured two stints on the DL, including absence from the stretch run.

Mark Reynolds had terrible home run numbers for 2/3 of the season.

Nate McClouth wasn’t on the team when the season started.

Manny Machado is a shortstop by trade. He’s also 20 years old.

Dan Duquette had been out of baseball for a decade and was widely seen as a consolation pick for GM.

I could go on.

This is the kind of season guys like John Feinstein write books about. Except that in order to do so requires some kind of hint that there might be a book worth writing. Nobody thought that this year. These guys didn’t just defy expectations, they strung them up and beat the shit out of them. Time and time again.

Right now is a hell of a time to be an Orioles fan. Congratulations to the team and to everyone who stuck with them through some very frustrating years.

This is proof that possibility extends beyond the reach of that which is known. Proof that there is tremendous value in holding fast even when all rational evidence suggests jumping ship.

Proof, after all, that great things happen so long as we’re willing to let them.

(photo via Flickr user Keith Allison)

18 comments to The Orioles Are In

  • Miles

    I took a big moment for me tonight.

    I put a bottle of cheap bubbly in the fridge on Friday night. I watched the final outs of the Angels with some friends and my wife on the other side of Hampden. I came home, got the bubbly out of the trudge, and blew it off into the Hampden night.

    As I downed that bottle of Martini and Rossini, I thought of my mom, 60, who is going to be my guest at the first home post-season game that we’re just a few days away from securing. She’s a life-long fan, and I cant wait to give her that experience.

    And then I got a little teary-eyed, because I thought of her father, my pop-pop, who raised me as his own, who took me to countless games on 33rd street as a little kid, who took me to meet Brooksie and to countless autograph sessions and baseball card shows. He cultivated my love of basseball and the birds.

    He passed away in early 1998. I remember us talking about “next year” when he was sick. Orioles baseball was something that bonded us together, and he would have been thrilled to have seen this season unfold. I would have been able to take him to HIS first post season game at 84.

    I wont get a pay raise or a bonus if the Orioles keep winning. My wife wont love me more. My friends wont like me better.

    But I’ll always have the memory of this season. And I can tie it to my past, and it will tie into my future.

    And that’s something special.

    Go O’s.

  • neal s

    @ Miles: That comment is why this site still exists. Thanks, man.

    Here’s to you, to all of the other regular commenters/readers, to the Orioles, and to this awesome thing we’re all sharing.

  • dan the man

    @ Miles:
    Great post, man.

    You’d be hard pressed to find an O’s fan that doesn’t have some kind of personal or emotional connection involving the Orioles and someone they care about. The team is ingrained in its fans and this season is like a release for all that stored up stuff. It’s great to witness and be a part of.

  • ryan97ou

    i started writing up a whole “my history as an orioles fan” thingy here, but then thought…this war isn’t over yet.

    so until then…lets get them rays tonight.

    go o’s.

    ps – great post @ miles

  • Ballmer Bruce

    The shot from MASN in the 9th took my breath away. I boy who looked about ten in the front row of the upper deck watching in awe. It took me back to when I was ten and started loving this crazy sport and this team.

  • dan the man

    So looking more and more likely that Markakis is out the entire playoffs unless the O’s make it to the World Series. Bummer, but the O’s have marched on without him.

    It’s bizarre that the O’s will be without Roberts and Markakis, the two current Orioles most familiar with the losing years.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    buck is my hero but HOW did he not bring in ayala there. i know it’s because of loyalty but come on man. am i the only one who saw that hit coming?

  • dan the man

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    Yeahhh one of them 7th inning Buck moments for sure. Pretty frustrating game.

  • g

    @ Miles:
    Really nice words, Miles. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • dan the man

    It’s nice that Tampa and LA are eliminated, but damn if I’m not scared of playing Oakland in the Colosseum.. hoping we avoid that somehow.

  • neal s

    A 1-0 win over an opposing pitcher who threw a 15-strikeout complete game?

    I want to say now we’ve seen it all except, well, how can I put anything past these guys? What an insane, awesome season.

  • Miles

    @ neal s:

    There’s a few things left to see, sir. I hope we get to see them.

    Meanwhile, Boston isn’t beating the Yanks anymore, but they are grinding on them in the 10th, and Rafael Soriano is now at 42 pitches tonight. Girardi clearly wants his arm to fall off, and I’m okay with that.

  • corky

    corky@ Miles:
    That was a heartfelt and beautiful little piece. This season has been such a reward for so many of us. And season to bring new fans to the fold. Not 96, not 97, this season has been CamdenYards greatest.

  • g

    I should know better than to expect any favors from the Red Sox.

    Can you imagine what this season would have been if Valentine said yes?

  • Miles

    14 years of training has me hitting the sauce early tonight.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    man the outcome of all these games the last three days have been rough for the most part, but nothing concerns me more than scoring two runs in 26 innings possibly heading to texas to face darvish. ugh.

  • neal s

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle: No doubt this has been a rough way to ride into the playoffs.

    Still…playoffs.

  • sci

    Playoffs indeed! Certainly not the ideal situation, looking at either Saunders or Johnson to start. I would actually go with Johnson, as a soft-tossing lefty with horrible career numbers against Texas seems like a bad idea. We just match up really badly against this team, period, but anything can happen in one game.

    But consider this — 93-69. 93 wins! That truly is something to take a moment to savor.