YEAAAAH! O’s Go The Distance, AGAIN!

I’ve been waiting a long, long time to feel this good.

Let’s make this short and sweet, the Baltimore Orioles won tonight in dramatic fashion on the New York Yankee‘s home turf. After 15 straight losing seasons, the Orioles stay alive with the win tonight. They now have a chance to clinch a spot in the American League Championship Series(ALCS) against the Detroit Tigers.

Of course to get there they’ll have to beat the Yankees one more time in a winner-take-all game 5 showdown in the Bronx. The odds are stacked against them, having played and won more overtime games than any other ball club this season, but it seems like the sky is the limit for the boys in orange & black.

I’ve asked God, Allah, Buddha, the Devil.., basically anyone with the power to give this team the win, for help. Just for good measure. To any other demigods, spirits, ghosts, demons, or leprechauns listening, we could use a little help turning that pop-fly into a home-run or having the Yankees starting pitcher leave one hanging over the middle of the plate. As long as we’re still communicating, thanks a lot for bringing Manny Machado to the Orioles. He’s really shored up Baltimore’s defense at third base, a position with more in common with a Merry-go-Round for most of the regular season.

Also, I’d like to thank whoever brought Manager Buck Showalter to Charm City. Without his steady hand guiding our team and making roster moves all year-long, we would have never won 90+ games and beat out the Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays for the final wildcard spot in the American League. Sure it would’ve been nice to win the AL East Pennant, but I’m not complaining since we beat the fearsome Texas Rangers for a chance to play against our arch-rivals in the AL Divisional Series.

In fact, I don’t think there’s anyone I would rather play in the ALDS than the Yankees. With a little help from J.J. Hardy, I think we can beat the Yankees in Game 5. This would only be fair since the Yankees still owe us for knocking Nick Markakis out with a hand injury near the end of the regular season.  I typically consider myself a fairly decent person, but let’s just say I wouldn’t be very sad if Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, or Curtis Granderson got struck by lightning, getting horribly maimed and therefore not being able to play the rest of the postseason.

Either way, whether we win or lose this series, I’d have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how well our team played this year. Even though Jim Johnson hasn’t played nearly as well as we had during the regular season, he sure made up for it with a save in Game 4. I think our team as a whole improved greatly from the sub-.500 season last year. A lot of people might be devastated if we don’t make it to the ALCS; I’m not one of those people.

Just the fact that we won 3 postseason games this year is more than I could have ever dreamed of before the season started. More than anyone could have dreamed of. At least I’m not one of those guys who never watched a Orioles game, never followed the team or even skimmed an article about them in the Baltimore Sun. It really annoys me when I see people posting on Facebook about how much their “home-team” means to them, especially when I never heard them talk about the Orioles before they got to the postseason.

Now suddenly they have become the biggest Orioles fan. Where were these ‘fanatics’ when the Orioles were dumping money on aging veterans, just to see the team falter after the All-Star Break. Where were they when Cal Ripken Jr. retired from baseball, leaving us with a small-market team with a bad farm system that couldn’t win 75 games if their professional lives depended on it. I’ll tell you exactly where they were. Rooting for those dirty Yankees, or the Washington Nationals.

Whether they win or lose, I’m proud to have been a fan of Baltimore baseball for most of my life. Watching them play and win all those close games and overtime games has only made my love for this team even stronger. They say you can’t really experience pleasure without knowing what pain feels like. They also say you can’t really appreciate something until it’s been taken away.

I was only a child when I went to my first ball-game at Camden Yards. The Orioles were still good then, with an uncertain future looming over the horizon. Baltimore went from being a playoff contender to last in our division in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Being so young, I never really realized how bad it felt being 20 games out of 1st place until it actually happened. Now imagine your team being 20 games out of 1st place by mid-season, every year for over a decade.

You can’t even imagine how much pleasure and appreciation I feel now that Baltimore baseball, thanks to Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette, is back for good.

*KNOCK, KNOCK*

That’s the sound of me knocking on wood.

~MSW, WONG_83@HOTMAIL.COM (PS: Thanks for helping Joe Saunders not give up his career average during the game against Texas.)

The Author is a longtime Baltimore Orioles/Ravens fan, having been born at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Southeast Baltimore. One of his favorite childhood memories is going to Camden Yards for the first time, and actually seeing people in the stands. He hopes that one day, he’ll see the old ball-park filled to capacity regularly, rather than just during postseason games.

 

Things you Might Have Missed During the Baltimore/Texas Game.

 

Even though I wanted to watch every second of this first round match-up, I was busy getting the urine scared out of my bladder. Instead of my usual run-on rhetoric, I figured I’d make this entry short and sweet.

Just about every sports announcer, MLB expert, Tom, Dick and Larry predicted the All-Powerful Texas Rangers would squeeze the life out of the Baltimore Orioles. The Rangers had the advantage in starting pitching, with Yu Darvish pitching for them. Supposedly, Darvish is the hottest thing to come from Japan since Hello Kitty and colorful hair.

The Texans were also supposed to have the advantage in hitting, slugging, and on-base percentage. The have Josh Hamilton! The same Josh Hamilton who crushed four home-runs in a game against Baltimore earlier in the season. They also have Adrian Beltre, as well as a bunch of other hitters; Actually it seems like everybody on their roster has a .300 batting average.. Maybe it’s just me? The Orioles hit home-runs, and not much else. The birds have Adam Jones, Chris Davis, The immortal Jim Thome and the on-and-off again Matt Weiters. Manny Machado seems to have some potential but he’s a rookie, I don’t know what kind of impact he’ll have in his first ever playoff-game.

As if they needed anymore help, they are playing in Arlington, the Rangers home turf and a VERY hitter-friendly baseball stadium. That’s just wonderful, I mean these guys are coming off back-to-back appearances in the World Series! That doesn’t seem very fair, especially since both teams have the same record. Sure we lost a bunch of games head-to-head with them. Whatever, I’m just saying. About the only thing the Orioles had going for them was the bullpen. Basically it seemed like the stars were all aligned against the East Coast underdog.

Well now I’m watching the game. The MLB Playoffs Wildcard Round started around 8:35 EST. It’s currently the bottom of the 9th inning, and this is what I’ve noticed so far:

1. Joe Saunders pitched a phenomenal 5 and 2/3rd innings. He gave up one run, more than a couple hits but always pitched his way out of trouble.

2. Saunders outplayed Yu Darvish, contrary to popular belief. Even though Darvish struck out more hitters, he also gave up more runs(one unearned) AND more hits. So much for Saunders not being able to handle Rangers stadium.

3. While listening to the radio on the way home from the Maze of the Undead, Firecrackers, and Heads on Meat Hooks, the ESPN announcer kept saying “Bloop single,” whenever the Orioles batters hit a single. Biased much?

4. The Orioles looked seasoned, more than even the home team. It must have been all the one-run and overtime games they won, I mean that puts a lot of pressure on a young, unproven team.

5. Texas had 9 hits, including having the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.  For all those hits, they got one total run. Author very happy.

6. Orioles Manager Buck Showalter completely out-coached Ron Washington, the talented manager of the Rangers. The pitching change at the end of the 5th inning, going from Saunders to Darren O’Day was crucial in keeping Texas from rallying.

7. Does anyone else think O’Day has one of the weirdest looking pitches? It’s not too far from being a women’s softball pitch.

8. The Orioles made a few unusual fielding errors tonight. That could have lost them the game if the Rangers were hitting better tonight. Luckily they weren’t, especially Josh Hamilton.

9. Speaking of Hamilton, he wasn’t just bad. He was REALLY bad. He looked indecisive at the plate, even lost at times. His strikeouts and pop-ups had a visible effect on the morale in the Texas dugout.

10. The road team played solid defense throughout the game, forcing three double-plays on the team from Arlington.

11. How exciting was this single-elimination playoff game?! It seemed like the stakes were a lot higher than usual, similar to a playoff game in the NFL. Usually the Rangers would have just been able to shrug it off as a bad start. Instead, their fate is sealed with another run given up in the 7th inning.

12. Likewise, i really felt like the MLB umpires are not quite used to making calls in a sudden-death situation. A bad call isn’t nearly as bad when the team looking at the short end of the stick has a chance to even things up later.

13. ORIOLES WIN!!! ORIOLES WIN!!! FUCK YOU to Josh Hamilton & the Rest of the Texas Rangers!

14. A small percentage of people predicted the O’s would win at LEAST 85 games.. Including the author. I’d now like to take this moment to say, “Naah-Naah, I told you so.”

15. If the supremely dangerous Texas Rangers didn’t rattle this team, playing in their first playoff game in 16 years, not much else will. In a single-elimination, winner-takes-all contest no less.

16. Texas vs. Baltimore regular season winning percentage, 70%+. Texas vs. Baltimore playoffs winning percentage, 0%.

17. The Baltimore Orioles join the Baltimore Ravens as playoff-caliber sports teams. We’ve been patiently awaiting for this day all those long, lonely nights. Between the Orioles, the Washington Nationals, the Ravens, the Washington Redskins,the Baltimore Blast, and  the Washington Capitals, this area is finally living up to expectations. We’re still waiting on John Wall, Nene, Trevor Ariza and the rest of the Washington Wizards to step up. Shout-out to the DMV, as well as I-495, I-295 and the Baltimore-Washington Area.

17. You Can’t Spell Orioles Without… OLE!!! Bullfighting is so appropriate for the beating we put on Texas.

Parting Thoughts: Reynolds and Macho Machado HAVE to hit better if we expect to go deep into the 2012 MLB Playoffs. We showed a ton of heart tonight on the green grass of Texas Stadium. We’re going to need every bit of heart, hitting and patience to make it through the second-round. Next up, those damn Yankees.

MSW, Wong_83@hotmail.com

The Author has been a Orioles fan since 1995, the first time his family brought him to Camden Yards. He became a Ravens fan that first year after the Browns left Cleveland for Baltimore. In the NBA, he’s a Heat/Wizards fan, in the MLB, a Capitals fan. His main passion, however, lies with the NFL and MLB. He hahandss lived in the Baltimore-Washington Area for the past 2 decades, with his fiancee, adopted daughter and Maximus the Rat Terrier.